HONK FOR NURSES: A protest outside Kyogle Memorial Hospital over changes to staffing roles in the elderly care unit.
HONK FOR NURSES: A protest outside Kyogle Memorial Hospital over changes to staffing roles in the elderly care unit. Susanna Freymark

Nurses strike not ruled out for future

THE PROTESTS are getting bigger, the voices more vocal and more cars are honking in support of the nurses protesting outside Kyogle Memorial Hospital.

More than 40 people, including Kyogle residents who have parents being cared for in the elderly ward, turned up at the hospital entrance yesterday afternoon to protest.

The issue of security staff taking on the role of assistant nurses in patient care of the elderly has not gone down well with anyone except hospital management who have previously stated the changes in roles give the hospital versatility.

Maureen Crotty's 90 year old mother is in the hospital's elderly care unit.

"I'm concerned about the lack of dignity for the elderly,” Ms Crotty said.

"They are there to be nursed, not to be maintained like a garden implement.”

She refers to security staff being given the extra task of feeding and caring for elderly patients instead of assistant nurses

Ms Crotty said there has been occasions when gardeners were used to look after the elderly.

The Nurses and Midwives association lead organiser Linda Griffiths said Northern NSW Local Health District executive director Lynne Weir sent a letter that was read out at the protest stating that management were happy with how the staffing trial was going.

"We will keep protesting,” Ms Griffith said.

"We will not go away. We would consider a strike.”

The union's next step is to send a delegation to Lismore State MP Thomas George's office.

"We are calling on Thomas George to intervene and resolve this issue and sort this mess out,” Ms Griffiths said.

The Health Service Union representing security staff joined forces with the nurses and midwives in this third protest since staffing changes were introduced and organiser Peter Kelly said they kept protesting because "we have a manager who refuses to listen to us.”

"There are many times we don't have security in this hospital,” Mr Kelly said. "This is not good enough.”

What both unions want is simple. For AiNs (assistant nurses) to nurse and HSAs (health and security assistants) to do security and not to mix up the roles.

"We are all here because we are frustrated,” he said.

Member for Page Kevin Hogan will take the issue to the aged care minister and union reps are hoping Thomas George MP will step in too.

A motion is being put to Kyogle Council by union members and another concerned resident will be talking to a large delegation of the CWA in Lismore in the coming weeks to enlist their support. The protesters marched up and down the main street of Kyogle as community support grows with each protest.



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