"There is a bed block in ED every single day. There are ambulances ramping outside the hospital and sometimes they're unable to offload their patients for four to six hours."
This is happening at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.
Nurses and midwives from Port Macquarie joined the statewide 24-hour strike action on Thursday (September 1) demanding safe patient ratios, higher wages and calling for staffing guarantees.
President of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) Port Macquarie Base Hospital branch Mark Brennan said nurses have had enough of the "difficult and unsafe" working conditions.
"We can't cope anymore, the hospital is not coping with the influx of the population of Port Macquarie," he said.
Mr Brennan said recently there was a patient at Port Macquarie Base Hospital waiting in ED for 106 hours.
"When the patients do eventually get into ED, they could be waiting in there for three days or even longer," he said.
"There's no beds and no staff."
Troy McMahon works as a theatre nurse at Port Macquarie Base Hospital and said he has gone on strike in support of nursing staff across the hospital.
"We're very fortunate in theatre because in certain critical care areas we already have ratios and in theatre we have a three to one nurse to patient ratio," he said.
"Theatre has long recognised that ratios are important. Theatre nurses are striking today to recognise the rest of our hospital wards and the need for safe patient ratios regardless of where you work in the hospital."
Mr McMahon said he has seen a large increase in the number of elective surgeries being cancelled because of the lack of beds in the hospital.
"There aren't enough beds anywhere in the healthcare system to support these patients postoperatively, so you're getting patients coming in for their third or fourth admission and cancelled the day of surgery because there aren't any beds.
"These are patients who have paid tax their entire lives, expecting to come to hospital to have their hip replacement done, and it gets cancelled multiple times because there is no bed available for them.
"They get booked two months later and the same thing happens again."
Mr McMahon said staff are having to prioritise surgery based on whether there's a bed available and not what's clinically safe for a patient.
Mr Brennan believes Port Macquarie Base Hospital is too small for the growing population.
"Elective surgery is being cancelled left, right and centre. There are no beds and the hospital is too small," he said.
"And on top of that you have nurses leaving the profession. To bring nurses back into the hospital, you need to make it attractive by implementing ratios and attractive wages.
"Nurses are burning out and cannot cope."
Around 100 nurses and midwives joined a rally along Horton Street on Thursday (September 1) and a marquee has been set up on Town Green so nurses can speak with the community about the strike.
"We even have managers here today supporting us. They are under a lot of pressure too," Mr Brennan said.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association wants one nurse for every four patients to ensure the system is not overstretched and patients receive the best care.
Nurses and midwives are also demanding a seven per cent pay rise to keep up with the rising cost of living, more than double the government's public sector wage increase cap of three per cent.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the offer was "fair, reasonable and generous".
"It's above private sector wages ... it's the most generous wages packages anywhere in the country," he told reporters on Wednesday.
When asked his thoughts about nurses going on strike, he appeared less combative.
"I don't want the public service to be striking but when other unions do so they do so with care and with many services still being provided. These are not comparable," Mr Perrottet said.
The strike action comes as the NSW Government responds to the regional health inquiry report.
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the NSW Government has drawn a line in the sand, recognising the findings of the inquiry and taking meaningful action to provide safe and high quality health care services.
"It is my absolute priority to ensure that, no matter where you live in our state, you have access to the health services that you need and deserve," Mrs Taylor said.
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