MEDICAL staff across the state walked off the job on Tuesday in a bid for better working conditions and a pay rise.
Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) organised demonstrations across the state calling for recognition for their work during the pandemic, better nurse-to-patient ratios as well as a 2.5 per cent pay increase and compensation for a wage freeze during 2020.
Despite the Industrial Relations Commission ordering against demonstrations, hundreds of nurses and midwives went on strike in a bid for significant changes to the state's health system.
In Dubbo, more than 50 members marched and rallied in front of Dubbo MP and NSW Agricultural Minister Dugald Saunders office, while in the state's north, members rallied in front of Inverell hospital and in front of Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall's Armidale office.
The former Agriculture Minister threw his support behind the workers saying he fully supported their efforts to secure better pay and conditions.
"Never before has our health system, and the people who work within it, faced the extreme challenges it has in the last two years. Our nurses and other frontline medical staff have met that challenge, working tirelessly every single day keeping our communities safe and healthy," Mr Marshall said.
"We owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude and thanks for their dedication - they have never stopped working to support us during the pandemic - but also our full support and action to improve their conditions at work and to train and employ even more nurses and midwives in our local hospitals.
"I've met personally with many of our region's nurses to listen and better understand the strain they're under and what needs to be done."
Meanwhile in the state's Hunter, Maitland Mental Health branch of the NSWNMA secretary Laurel Kibble told a big crowd of the challenges faced by workers in her district.
"Members of my branch have been slapped, punched, kicked, spat on, strangled and even sexually assaulted in the workplace," she said.
"We've been bruised, lost teeth, broken bones and suffer psychological distress including nightmares and panic attacks around coming to work."
The strike action was staggered across the morning, with some nurses and midwives walking off the job for up to 24 hours.
During the strike, life-preserving services were maintained in all public hospitals and health services.
NSW Health said in a statement on Monday: "NSW Health recognises and is thankful for its committed workforce, which has worked tirelessly during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic."
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