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Ratio discussions continue

Government says nurses given fair offer, nurses disagree.

NSW nurses fear their voices are still not being heard, even as they continue negotiations with the state government over nurse-patient ratios.

The NSW Nurses' Association (NSWNA) began holding rallies on Monday to highlight the need for more staffing, especially in the community field.

It won't be official industrial action, with participating nurses and midwives attending the rallies in their own time.

And, the NSWNA says it will stick with its commitment to keep negotiating until today on the initial government offer on nurse staffing.

The association wants the state government to improve its initial offer and is seeking improvements in skill mix in all units and staffing ratios in mental health, emergency departments, operating theatres and community health services.

Union members working in community health services will hold various lunchtime activities and rallies calling for minimum mandated staffing levels in their sector.

Community health service nurses and midwives were furious that improvements to their nurse-to-patient staffing levels were not included in the government's initial offer, NSWNA assistant secretary Judith Kiejda said.

Kiejda said the NSWNA finds the government's "stubbornness" on the issue "a contradiction of the general trend to get and keep people out of hospital" and have them back home as much as possible.

"The cold hard fact is, that policy objective, which the NSWNA strongly supports, cannot be achieved without a strong and properly staffed community nursing and midwifery sector," she said.

However, Premier Kristina Keneally said nurses had been given a “very fair offer” by the government.

"The government has put a very fair offer to the nurses, one that seeks to address their concerns and if accepted it would mean all nurses receive a pay rise and that there would be significant numbers of new nurses in our health system,” she said.

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