Article written by Olivia Babb
New South Wales nurse strikes have begun, with Tamworth hosting the first of many to come.
Women and men in scrubs stood on the grass outside the Dean Street hospital despite orders made late yesterday by Industrial relations Commissioner John Murphy to halt any action for one month.
Mr Murphy further ordered nurses not to add any reference to the strike on social media and remove the information from the union's Facebook and website.
General secretary of the NSW nurses and midwives association Brett Holmes said the intervention came too late and vowed to go ahead with the strike and that they would not be silenced.
Chants of demands for the government to fix the patient ratio and compensate healthcare workers with better pay and working conditions could be heard from 10 am.
Devastating accounts from patients told to the crowds, with one man who used a wheelchair telling his experience of being a patient with an amputee leg soiling himself and his embarrassment of nurses having to clean him.
"I have a 93-year-old and a 91-year-old woman that needs two people to go to the toilet and shower, but because they're understaffed there pulling another person away from another patient to help."
The brave man describes the shame he and other patients feel about asking for help from overworked nurses,
I've seen it personally, [patients] are peeing themselves in the halls and are too embarrassed to tell a nurse," he said.
Stories of nurses dealing with inpatient ratios and the inability to take a break were described, with many staff getting emotional.
Jen, a nurse from Palliative care, says they've been moved from a unit with six individual rooms to an old out of commission building of sixteen patients for a four-bedroom unit.
Palliative Care is a department where patients go that have a diagnosis such as terminal cancer live out the rest of their time as comfortably as possible.
"We're going home in tears every night"
Health Minister Brad Hazzard told radio station 2GB he is "disappointed" nurses and midwives will go on strike despite an order to cancel the protest over safety concerns.
Threatening there may be disciplinary action on those who protest after the IRC ruled a ban on strikes by the union for one month.
Nurses made it clear where they stand, with one nurse stating that Dominic Perrottet wife is currently pregnant and asking what kind of care he expects from an overworked midwife.
Strikes are set to continue throughout New South Wales.