The reason why I’m still a nurse is that I get to make a positive difference to my patients’ lives – I’ve not had a single shift in over twenty four years where that wasn’t the case.
But I have grave concerns about what will happen to my patients if Tony Abbott and the Coalition get into power - I’m worried about what they’ll cut, and how those cuts will affect my ability to care for my patients.
I work in one of Melbourne’s major public hospitals. The people I care for are some of the sickest in the state – they often have multiple medical issues, in addition to their admission issue. They need dialysis, they need transplants, or have life-threatening diseases like pneumonia.
Under Labor we have more support so that patients can be supported and cared for at home. Elective surgical lists are shorter, which means people don’t have to wait as long and are in better condition before they have surgery – that means less recovery time, and fewer complications.
I know what can happen when a Coalition government is in power. In Victoria, Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett didn’t cut fat – he cut health care to the bone.
We were expected to do more with less, and that meant taking unsafe shortcuts, or working unpaid overtime, and even then our patients weren’t cared for well. Nurses left the public system by the thousand, and that means those who stayed worked double shifts, which isn’t safe for staff or patents.
I’ve heard from liberal governments that front line services won’t be cut. Without cleaners the risk of disease rises; without kitchen staff patients are served the wrong meals, which can be serious for those fasting or on modified diets; without ward clerks nursing time is diverted by answering the phone and additional paperwork.
Seeing patients wait for care – for water, for blankets, for pain relief – was hard. And because I was so busy I would have to leave my dependent patients while I was feeding them, coming back to give them one mouthful then leaving again. That’s not dignified, it’s not respectful, and it didn’t make my patients feel like they were priorities.
But the worst thing was going home at the end of a lot of shifts knowing I hadn’t been able to care for patients the way they needed to be cared for. It was heartbreaking and frustrating but from that experience I’ve learned one thing.
We can’t let this happen all over again.
Tony Abbott recently praised Jeff Kennett, hailing him as a great Premier, and calling his reign a golden age. The same Jeff Kennett who closed 17 public hospitals, forced 10,000 health workers and 3,500 nurses into unemployment.
If Tony Abbott and the Coalition get into power, patients won’t be the priority. Services will be cut and it will be the patients that suffer.
Labor will always be there for working people and families. The Coalition? They’re not there for us, never have been and never will be.
I’m supporting Labor this election because I know they will give my patients the care and support they need. There is no other option if we are going to stop Tony Abbott’s cuts.