The nurses, midwives and other allied health workers at Dubbo Hospital have declined to join a union-organised 24-hour strike next Tuesday because "they're too busy" to leave their patients to protest.
A spokesperson for the health workers union told the Daily Liberal their branch members in Dubbo voted to "opt out because they're too short-staffed" to walk out of their shifts on Tuesday.
But those with spare time would only be attending an online meeting at the protest on Tuesday at Town Hall in Sydney broadcast from 2 pm to regional locations such as Dubbo.
Health workers at Cobar have voted to support the protest online which is proposing to the health department to put in the ground rules on staffing ratios at every shift at hospitals and allied health services.
Staff at the Mid-western mental health services which included Orange's Bloomfield Hospital and Canowindra will take part for 4 hours from 1.45 pm, the spokesperson said.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association's statement said 16 branches have "voted in support of the stop-work action but due to severe staffing shortages and a commitment to life-preserving care are unable to participate".
In the last three months, there have been several industrial actions in Dubbo as health staff called for wage increases already granted in the NSW government's 2022-2023 budget such as a 6.5 percent increase in salaries rolled out over two years.
The NSWNMA said it was "furious at the NSW government's failure to address the urgent need for a shift by shift staffing ratios."
The union also said it believed the health policies in the announced 2022-2023 budget were "smoke and mirrors and would not fix the healthcare crisis".
"There are widespread staffing deficits right across the state and there is no guarantee that the government's health workforce boost will be utilised to plug gaps in the staffing rosters", the NSWNMA statement said.
"We will continue to review the budget and push for answers, but on early review we are not confident it will address the current workforce fatigue, or the ongoing issue attracting and retaining nurses and midwives in NSW."
The health budget for 2022-2023 allocated over $4 billion to improve health services in regional areas which included $883 million to be spent over four years to recruit and retain hard-to-fill roles in hospitals and allied health services.
Aside from incentives to entice health workers to work in regional areas like Dubbo reeling from staff shortages, other benefits are provided such as salary boost totaling 6.5 percent over two years under the public sector wage award, paid leaves, child care, housing, education and training.
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