Townsville nurses and midwives are an inspiration to us all
Published: 30 October 2012
The past few months have seen the state government make deep cuts to frontline health services—including nursing and midwifery.
None of these cuts were flagged before the March state election. Indeed in a pre-election pitch, Premier Newman specifically promised "more nurses, not more red tape".
At least 2754 jobs—including more than 1500 in the 17 frontline Hospital and Health Services (HHS)—are to go.
This will have a severe impact on access to and quality of health services—particularly in rural and regional areas.
Regional communities got a glimpse of the future when the Townsville Hospital and Health Service announced 200 job cuts—including 45 nurses and midwives.
Townsville HHS is only the first to make cuts in health worker jobs and health services. Each HHS will approach the situation differently, adding to the confusion and anxiety.
How could this be happening at a time of growing demand for health services and an ageing population?
The government has made no case other than "budget constraints", along with some highly dubious comparisons between Queensland and Greece.
Since the job cuts were announced QNU members in and around Townsville have been campaigning hard, with protests taking place in Townsville, Ingham, Charters Towers and Ayr.
Local communities have demonstrated strong support for our campaign, with thousands signing the QNU’s petition calling for a halt to the cuts.
The magnificent community campaigning demonstrated so far by QNU activists in far north Queensland provides a template that will be followed elsewhere across the state when more clear announcements on cuts are released.
The QNU will fight for every nursing and midwifery position. This will occur on a number of fronts, including:
Activists undertaking community campaigning in support of our objectives of protecting public health service provision and job security.
Rigorous application at the local level of the agreed nursing and midwifery workload management tool (the Business Planning Framework).
Protection of the hard-won nursing and midwifery career and classification structures that are essential to ensuring the integrity of our work.
It is important to remember that the outcome of this campaign will have ramifications for members in all sectors, especially given that Treasurer Tim Nicholls has already flagged that services currently provided by QH will be outsourced to private contractors.
This situation requires leadership from each of us, at every level of nursing and midwifery.
We need to stand together to protect and advance our core nursing and midwifery values of caring, professionalism, holism and advocacy.
Our profession and our community need us to speak with a strong, clear and united voice now—and we must all work together to provide this.
We should also never forget what happened in Bundaberg seven years ago. Those events were the "canary down the coal mine" for Queensland’s health system.
The Bundaberg scandal showed to all that Queensland’s public health services had suffered from severe underinvestment for decades.
Since Bundaberg there has been a significant and long-overdue investment in our public health services, with an emphasis on increasing safety and quality through extra clinical staff, including nurses and midwives.
The Newman government is now putting these gains at severe risk.
QNU members won’t put up with it. Queensland is now a national nursing and midwifery leader, and we will fight to keep it that way.
Nurses and midwives work to keep our health system both safe and human. We take seriously the role of being strong advocates for high-quality universal health services, based on clinical need and not ability to pay.
We know an efficient, effective health system relies on cooperation, good relationships and trust.
All are in short supply between government and staff in QH at present.
All are clearly present in our activists and members who are so vigorously engaged in community campaigning in the Townsville HHS.
Their leadership is an inspiration to us all—and a clear indication that nurses and midwives united are a
force to be reckoned with.
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