With the State Election drawing nearer, members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association have commenced taking to the street outside Armidale Regional Hospital daily from 12.30pm to protest about nurse - patient ratios at the recently refurbished, $60 million facility.
Armidale association president Jo Sillito said it was statewide campaign to improve working conditions for nurses in public hospitals.
We're just trying to raise awareness about it.Jo Sillito
"We're trying to get people to think about using their vote in the upcoming election to help the change occur by holding their preferred candidate accountable for their stance on health care and patient safety in the public health system," she said.
"The Armidale hospital was a transfer of service, so the new building hasn't changed the services provided to the town. There's a discrepancy between the city and country health care at the moment.
"The discrepancy is based on what they call nursing hours per patient day. It's a clause in the award. As it stands, the bigger the hospital the more nursing staff you are entitled to. That's essentially the breakdown of that system."
Jo said because Armidale was not as big as some of the other places it did not have as many patient days.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate Rayne Single attended the protest and said nurses in the community needed to be supported.
It's great to have the extension to the hospital, however they can't utilise all the beds because they don't have the staff.Rayne Single
"This comes back to the classic divide between the city and the bush," he said.
"We all pay the same amount of taxes, so we should get the same level of service here that the city gets.
"I have relatives who are retired nurses and they said when they were nursing 20 years ago it was just the same."
Labor's Debra O'Brien said there had been a long erosion of patient care and a long battle to halt it.
"I had two sisters who were nurses and the deterioration in care was dreadful," she said.
"This is probably one of the most important issues of this election. A matter of life or death really.
"As well as supporting the nurses ratio demands, Labor would add thousands of security guards to ensure the safety of nurses and patients."
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said he recently held a very good meeting with representatives from the Armidale NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association.
"They explained what they were looking for and I indicated that I would take that forward on their behalf to the Minister for Health which I have done." he said.
"My understanding is that he's considering all of that and will be making and announcement on behalf of the government before the election."