Nurse numbers and wages have increased in NSW in past decade, claim government.
NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt has defended the state government's health record but has told NSW nurses that more can always be done.
Tebbutt addressed almost 400 delegates at the annual nurses conference in Sydney on Thursday, saying the state government had worked hard to increase nurse numbers and wages.
"Of course there is always more we need to do and we will do more," she said.
"But I do ask you to consider these facts - under the NSW Labor government the number of nurses employed in the NSW health system has increased from 32,000 in 1996 to almost 40,000 this year.
"Since 1995 the average pay for nursing staff has almost doubled from $700 a week to almost $1400."
Tebbutt was questioned by a nurse about staff shortages at Westmead Hospital in Sydney's west, following the federal government's pledge on Wednesday to provide 45 new beds at the facility.
"How can you tell us you're going to maintain safe patient care with the right skill mix and staffing of these 45 new beds when we are unable to maintain the existing beds at the moment?" the nurse asked.
Tebbutt acknowledged staffing was particularly challenging in Sydney's west.
"There have been significant recruitment and staffing issues in Sydney west," she said.
"The understanding that I've got is that there has been some significant recruitment that has been under way over the last few months."
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