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Coalition backs NSW nurses’ award

Award to be honoured regardless of the outcome of the March election.

A new award the nurses union has negotiated with the NSW government has the backing of the coalition if it wins the March state election.

Under the award, nurses will get a 9.7 per cent pay rise over three years, backdated to 2010, and the public hospital system will get an extra 1400 nurses.

NSW opposition health spokeswoman Julian Skinner said the coalition would stand by the agreement if it won the March poll, as expected.

“We will be more than happy to abide by the recommendation of the IRC,” she said in a statement, adding that nurses would also benefit from upgraded medical facilities courtesy of a $3 billion fast-track fund.

But deputy premier and health minister Carmel Tebbutt has questioned the opposition’s support for the deal.

“We know that past opposition and coalition governments federally have sought to undermine award conditions, so, of course, there’s always that risk should there be a change in government,” she said.

She said the government had come to a compromise with the nurses on their demand for a one-to-four ratio of nurses to patients across all wards and shifts.

“I’ve always said that a blunt one-to-four ratio, no matter what type of hospital and no matter which shift, was not the best way to staff our hospitals into the future,” she said.

The nurses’ demand was an attempt to reduce workload pressures, Tebbutt said, and “the way we have done that is to provide nurses with per patient hours”.

Tebbutt said these hours varied depending on the size and type of the hospital and across shifts.

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