Meetings set to be held in Dubbo and Wellington as part of the Regional and Rural Health Inquiry have been welcomed by Nursing and Midwives Association officials in the Central West.
Tracey Coyte, an organiser for the union who was on the ground throughout the push for an inquiry to be held, says she's glad to see that the inquiry will have a rural focus, after hearing many of the troubling stories about staff and resource shortages firsthand.
"This has been a long-term fight on the association's part," Ms Coyte said.
"It's a really important issue and one that deserves attention, we're very happy that the committee has made the decision to come out west."
Ms Coyte says the range of submissions to the inquiry, which attracted hundreds of responses, shows that the issues being talked about in remote communities are being felt across the state.
"It's very clear based on the number of submissions to the parliamentary inquiry - with hundreds of hundreds of submissions across the state - that this is very deeply and widely felt, not only by nurses and midwives, but also the communities," Ms Coyte said.
"We're hoping and praying that they will listen to what their health workers and communities are telling them and what they're telling them is that the system is broken and it needs to be fixed."
Ms Coyte and others have been travelling the Central West, discussing the issues with various community members, and speaking up for staff members at ad-hoc, informal community meetings, but there's still no end in sight for the workers on the ground.
"Being given the opportunity to write a submission gave us some level of hope, now that they have actually acknowledged that there are problems in rural and remote, regional communities, it is a positive takeaway."
The push for stricter, legally binding staff ratios that ensure that the number of patients is adequately covered by the number of available staff has been a keystone in the association's fight.
"But at the end of the day, the changes need to happen and we need safer staffing by way of mandated, shift-by-shift patient to staff ratios," Ms Coyte said.
Ms Coyte says that without those measures being supported, and a rapid deployment of more nurses to cover the shortfalls in remote health facilities, any inquiry will have failed to make the necessary changes.
"Ratios are what will fix a hell of a lot of the problems that nurses and midwives face everyday of their working life," Ms Coyte said.
Ms Coyte says that a one to four ratio between patients and nurses in general care, and a one to three ratio in emergency departments, is the desired result, but would need immediate investment in staff numbers.
"The state government has pledged 5000 more nurses by 2023, that's far too late, we need those nurses now, that's what we need."
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