SHELLHARBOUR nurses have rolled up their sleeves and aided a statewide appeal to acquire 100,000 signatures, urging the government to act on nurse-to-patient ratios.
NSW Opposition leader John Robertson visited the Illawarra last week, including Shellharbour, as part of his tour of the state's hospitals.
Nurses attended Stockland Shellharbour last Thursday, collecting signatures for their petition to improve the ratios. NSW Nurses and Midwives Association's Shellharbour branch president Karin Tilden said they had been acquiring signatures during recent weeks.
"Nurses throughout the state are collecting what we hope to be 100,000 signatures, asking that the matter be discussed in Parliament," she said.
Mrs Tilden said many Illawarra nurses faced one-to-four nurse-to-patient ratios, while country staff were sometimes forced to deal with five or six patients each.
She said nurses were tired of the government ignoring their calls for more staff.
"People were lining up to sign it," she said.
"The public are aware it's not about more money, it's about safer conditions."
The nurses were joined by Shellharbour MP Anna Watson.
"It's time for action, specifically around health in this region," Ms Watson said.
In July, striking staff campaigned for guaranteed, safe nurse staffing levels and equal ratios in public hospitals state-wide.
September 17 will be the next day of action involving nurses and midwives from throughout NSW and Australia joining with colleagues from around the world in Global Nurses United. Nurses plan to present the petition to the state government on that date.
During his visit, Mr Robertson met registered nurses, who raised concerns regarding inadequate staff-to-patient ratios and the changes in expectations that nurses had experienced in recent years.
Mr Robertson told Fairfax Media that nurses were being pushed to breaking point as they attempted to "cover ever increasing temporary staff vacancies".
"These staff are being asked to do more with less support and resources - they are determined to put patients first but are being let down by the savage cuts," he said.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the state government made no apologies for removing non-frontline employees from the health service.