After Dubbo's paramedics' staged a 24-hour strike on Tuesday, nurses and midwives took to the streets on Thursday.
Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association walked off shifts for 24 hours from 7am on Thursday in the hope of getting answers from the state's health officials on demands for better working conditions.
Hospital floors were left to colleagues to ensure emergency units and critical services still had adequate personnel and NSW health monitored the situation across the state.
By 9am, the crowd had gathered on Macquarie Street and headed to the Talbragar Street office of Dubbo MP and minister for agriculture Dugald Saunders, who was at parliament house at the time.
Mr Saunders issued a statement assuring the protesters the NSW government is "committed to reaching a resolution in the best interest of patients and all our healthcare workers."
Midwife Jennifer Humphreys told the Daily Liberal she walked out of Dubbo Base Hospital in protest over a large gap in midwife-to-patient and their babies ratio, as an example is 17 mums and newborns against one or two senior midwives assisted by one student midwife.
That ratio is mainly for single births and Dubbo's families are known to have "a very good [record] with twins having 29 sets last year and 26 sets the previous year."
The current maternity care system only counts a mother and one baby born but twins are not yet recorded, Ms Humphreys said.
"Midwifery is not a set number of beds compared with nursing. We could have 17 women in post natal ward and every one of them have a baby and maybe sets of twins and they're not counting twins.
"We're observing those mums and babies, checking their blood sugar, hearing, checking how mums are doing with feeding their babies, testing babies' hearing and doing wellness checks."
Ms Humphreys described her latest three nights of work. She had looked after four women three days ago with a student midwife, two days ago cared for nine women while she was assisted by an intern with six weeks' experience, and the previous night before protesting, she cared for mothers and their babies at the ward by herself while a colleague went on caesarean section duty.
"You wonder why we're burnt out?" Ms Humphreys said. Ms Humphreys has been practising since 1995 and has "stopped counting after delivering 1000 babies in 2008."
Emergency department nurse Kate Butler worked with COVID-19 frontline staff at Dubbo as pandemic cases escalated and she saw staff doubling shifts and working a minimum of 18 hours a day while responding to over 150 patients coming through daily.
"Head to toe in PPE sweating, thirsty, no toilet breaks, just exhausting. You're entering with sick patients in isolation room you cant leave. It's enormous," she said.
Kelly Crosby, president of the Dubbo NSWNMA, said they agreed to do double shifts to cover for the increased staff shortages on Thursday even though they are exhausted because "we don't want to let our teammates down so we put our hand up."
Dubbo has more than 500 nursing and midwives while statewide an estimated 70,000 staff to include allied health services are serving at over 160 hospitals and health units.
The spokesperson said NSW Health has been boosting staffing shortage with new interns who graduated from their medical field degrees at the start of every year to "replenish workforce supply".
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