LITHGOW Hospital is short staffed and under resourced, putting pressure on nurses and doctors just trying to deliver the best outcomes for their patients.
Staff members from the hospital walked off the job on Thursday as part of a statewide strike of more than 160 public hospitals and health services.
Lithgow nurses travelled to Bathurst to join in a rally, which started out the front of Bathurst Court House and then moved through the central business district to Member for Bathurst Paul Toole's office.
Nurse Sarojini O'Connor, the Lithgow delegate for the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, said the local 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 nursing staff, they are losing experienced staff who then 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 occurring 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. We love caring for people."
Other nurses at the rally shared her views.
They said that they are all fatigued, all working overtime and all working without appropriate staff-to-patient ratios.
They are also sacrificing time with their families and, when they are at home, are usually still "cranky" about work and sometimes take their frustrations out on their loved ones.
Ms O'Connor said the NSW Government had to treat the situation happening across all hospitals, not just in Lithgow, 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," she said.
"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. We are the ones running this country."
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