Townsville nurses and midwives react to staffing and budget threats
Published: 28 August 2012
1. Positive cinema and radio ads provide backdrop for local campaign to protect safe patient care against job and budget cuts
2. Qld is not broke - wage and service cuts are unacceptable
The Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) has started running a positive advertising campaign in Townsville cinemas from tomorrow, reminding the people of north Queensland of the vital work done by their nurses and midwives. Advertisements are also being run on Townsville radio.
QNU secretary, Beth Mohle, is in Townsville today, 28 August, to discuss the campaign with local nurses and midwives. She will hold a press conference, to also discuss the campaign and associated issues with local media, at 12.45pm.
The first stage of the QNU campaign will run in the weeks preceding the September State budget, against a backdrop of growing public anxiety about job losses and service cuts across the State public sector. These include:
- rumours of up to 4000 job losses in Queensland Health alone;
- a recent attempt to devolve the vital work of the Tuberculosis Control Centre;
- changes to the highly-effective BreastScreen program; and
- growing State attempts to impose a wages freeze.
The Townsville radio and cinema advertising will run up to Christmas and help keep pressure on both the State and federal governments to maintain high-quality, universal and affordable hospital, community health and aged care services.
The two-minute cinema advertisement shows real-life nurses and midwives at work. Other campaign material includes posters, leaflets, bumper stickers and a new campaign website.
Workplace activity, responding to any staff, service or budget cuts or changes, will also be conducted when such proposals come to the QNU’s attention.
Beth Mohle Townsville press conference details
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 Time:
Palmetum Gardens, Timbetum Café
(Next to Good Shepherd Nursing Home)
Copies of the campaign material, including the three advertisements, will be available for Townsville media outlets at the press conference.
The advertisements can also be viewed at: http://www.qnu.org.au/news/campaigns/better-hands/media
QNU secretary, Beth Mohle, said the advertisements are deliberately positive at this stage, as it is time to again remind everyone, including politicians and health service administrators, just what nursing and midwifery are all about.
“The excessive emphasis on budgets risks dehumanising and desensitising the whole debate and the way health and aged care services are delivered. There is no doubt that risk is very real in Queensland at the moment, with the LNP over-reacting to Queensland’s post-GFC and post-natural disasters financial position. I ask the Premier, Treasurer and LNP members in north Queensland to look closely at these advertisements and our campaign material, and take in the message, before they go slashing and burning across Queensland Health.
“Any attempt by the State Government to impose a wages freeze and remove safe-staffing processes from workplace agreements will also be opposed by the QNU. Strong wage and staffing growth, in recent years, has made Queensland a leader in nursing and midwifery and we will campaign hard to keep it that way. This is especially important in major regional cities such as Townsville, which need to be able to attract and keep nurses and midwives to handle the growth.
“Queensland is no longer a low-wage backwater and, even though the QNU has secured a new agreement – EB8 - with a three per cent annual payrise and a safe-staffing mechanism, any driving down of wages in other sections of government will have implications for the next nurses and midwives’ agreement.
“The QNU rejects the low-wage approach. We have consistently stated we do not accept the State Government’s catastrophising of the State’s finances.
“Finally, this campaign will also provide a backdrop for our campaigning ahead of the next federal election, due next year.
“While the State Government is the major player in running public hospitals and community healthcare, the Federal Government is the major funder of health and aged care services and nurse and midwife education. It is now also the regulator of nurses and midwives.
“For example, the QNU believes it is time for the Federal Government to start regulating assistants in nursing, to ensure safe patient care is protected through oversight and accountable practice.
“We are also worried about the impact of State budget cuts on the employment of new graduate nurses and midwives. The Federal Government has a significant interest here, as there is little point educating new nurses and midwives if they cannot get employment in their chosen career once they graduate. Strong State-federal cooperation is needed to ensure this problem is addressed.
“That is some of the detail of the issues confronting us. To have them properly addressed we believe it is time to again remind people of just why nursing and midwifery and health and aged care exist.
“And that is to provide vital, life-saving and life-enriching services to the people of Townsville, Queensland and Australia. Hopefully, this campaign will help tone down the excessive emphasis on budgets,” Ms Mohle said.
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