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Bed closures averted

NSW government agrees to talks with nurses.

The NSW Department of Health says it will enter into discussions with nurses following the Nurses Association's decision to lift the proposed industrial action.

However, NSW Health has warned that any further industrial action will immediately result in its withdrawal from the negotiations, according to a department spokesperson.

NSW Health says discussions will commence immediately.

The nurses abandoned their threat to close hospital beds after the NSW government came to the negotiating table over demands for mandated nurse-to-patient care ratios, union leaders say.

Thousands of nurses across the state walked off the job last Wednesday over the state government's failure to meet calls for a one-to-four nurses-to-patient ratio in NSW hospitals.

Hopes of an agreement being reached were raised on Saturday as the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) shelved a fresh resolution to close one in four beds after the government agreed to start "constructive discussions".

NSWNA general secretary Brett Holmes believes there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a settlement on the issue by December 13, which is the deadline imposed by the NSWNA membership at Wednesday's special general meeting.

The one-day forced 190 hospitals across the state to scale back services.

Hospital wards were reduced to night duty staffing levels and elective surgery was cancelled, but emergency departments have remained open as normal.

The action took place despite a ruling by the Industrial Relations Commission that it be called off and calls from the government for nurses to return to the negotiating table.


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