LITHGOW Hospital is short staffed and under resourced, putting pressure on nurses and doctors just trying to deliver the best outcomes for their patients.
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Staff members from the hospital walked off the job on Thursday as part of a statewide, with nurses travelling to Bathurst to join the rally.
Nurse Sarojini O'Connor, the Lithgow delegate for the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, said the hospital is in crisis.
"Often we are short staffed. Regional areas often are forgotten. Not only short staffed, often our theatres are shut to cover the ward and the ED," she said.
"We need to consider short staffing and employing more nurses and giving us more incentives."
She said the challenges for Lithgow "are huge", explaining that, in addition to a lack of nurses, they are losing experienced staff who can't pass on their knowledge to and mentor new nurses.
There are also not enough doctors, not enough beds and not enough equipment.
"We have forever been working with second-hand equipment coming from the hospitals. There is always a bed block and with this pandemic we are often begging for resources and we shouldn't have to," Ms O'Connor said.
While the issues were occuring long before 2020, Ms O'Connor said they have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and now many nurses are leaving the profession.
Even she, a nurse with 15 years of experience, has considered doing that herself.
The one thing that stops her is the same thing that led her to nursing: a desire to take care of people.
"I'm not at retiring age and I'm thinking of leaving, but at the same time, we need to continue fighting to correct the staffing," she said.
"... I love my job and that's the reason I keep going for it. I don't think any nurse can become a multimillionaire by working; it's a love of the job, it's the care."
Other nurses shared her views, saying they are fatigued, working overtime and working without appropriate staff-to-patient ratios.
They are also sacrificing time with their families and, when at home, are usually still "cranky" about work.
Ms O'Connor said the NSW Government had to treat the situation happening across all hospitals as its number one priority.
"We're not running a chook raffle or a fish and chip shop. We're working in a hospital system, in an environment where we can't just not have enough resources," she said.
"... [Premier Dominic Perrottet] and Brad Hazzard can't just sit over there and say 'We don't have the money'. Financially, this country is quite well off. Instead of spending it on the gas and oil, they should be able to spend it on the healthcare system. We need to look after the workers."
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