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NSW nurses set to make deal

Negotiations on state government nurse staffing offer are drawing to an end.

At least an extra 1400 full-time equivalent nurses could begin working in NSW hospitals if a state government offer to the NSW Nurses' Association (NSWNA) is accepted.

The union says there will be few problems filling those jobs, with 2000 graduate nurses in NSW and Queensland said to be looking or about to look for employment.

"We're confident that nurses would be available to fill those jobs," Brett Holmes, NSWNA general secretary, said.

He said there were 1000 nursing graduates in NSW and a further 1000 in Queensland.

"Now whether they are all suitable to fill jobs immediately is a question that will have to be looked at, but certainly many of them would be," Holmes said.

If the government's offer is accepted, Holmes said the 1400 full-time equivalent jobs would be filled over the next two-and-a-quarter years.

Nurses already working in the public health system would also likely fill some of the positions.

The additional jobs are being offered by the government alongside a 9.7 per cent incremental pay rise for nurse due to be introduced over the next two years.

The pay rise offer is backdated to July 2010, the final part of which is due to be granted in July 2012.

It would take the basic weekly salary of a first-year registered nurse/midwife from $984.50 as at July 2010 to $1039.40 by July 2012, draft documents published by the nurses' association show.
Nurses are due to vote in coming weeks with a decision likely announced at the end of February.

The offer was made following industrial action by the union, which led to the closure of public hospital beds right across the state in early January.

NSWNA was demanding a ratio of four nurses to one patient, a demand which the state government offer was equal or close to meeting, the union said.

The additional jobs would be created in category A, B and C hospitals, ranging from the largest metropolitan medical facilities to medium-sized rural hospitals.

They would staff general inpatient, palliative care and rehabilitation wards, among others.

The four-to-one ratio may vary slightly depending on the time of day, NSWNA has said.

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