Westmead nurses strike
By Lucy Honey
SYDNEY — Around 150 nurses from Westmead Hospital in Sydney's west protested against bed closures and service cutbacks at a rally in Parramatta Mall on November 19. The rally was part of a two-hour strike agreed to at a November 15 NSW Nurses Association stop-work meeting.
Westmead management plans to deal with a $7.5 million budget shortfall by closing 41 beds, cutting 300 operating sessions and capping maternity admissions. Already this year, $3 million was slashed from the hospital's budget when a program aimed at reducing waiting lists was cut.
Thirty-five winter-demand beds have been closed, and the average bed occupancy rate exceeds 90%. The number of beds at Westmead Hospital has declined in 10 years from more than 1000 to 740.
Liz Harford, a union delegate at Westmead, told the rally that nurses are fed up with apologising to patients about long waits and a lack of beds. The association has adopted a three-week plan that could involve nurses taking industrial action across the state if more government funding is not delivered.