According to the nurses at western Sydney Hospital, patient's health and care is being compromised because of the lack of state funding that has forced the health service to stop hiring new nurses and care givers.

About 700 nurses of Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) protested about the staff shortages at Nepean, Auburn, Blacktown, Mt Druitt and Lithgow hospitals during their lunch breaks today.

Brett Holmes, general secretary of NSW Nurse Association, addressed the protest being held at Nepean hospital: We have lots of vacant job positions that are not being filled at a permanent basis.  There were 20 full-time positions in the maternity section and 14.5 vacancies in the emergency department.

Meanwhile, there are 13 nurses position waiting to be filled at Mount Druitt and Blacktown hospital emergency departments. 10 mental health beds have been also closed across the health service.

The staff feels that they are not yet ready to fill in a position that must provide a level of care required. When people move out of the emergency department to fill in the vacancies of in wards, it is really hard to shift them back when the emergency department becomes busy again.

Jillian Skinner, opposition health spokeswoman, said that the situation is unacceptable. This leads to an increase in waiting times at the emergency departments and surgery waiting lists.

They are freezing vacancies, so when nurses go on maternity leave or resigns, those who remain in the shift works triple harder, they become disillusioned, hence, they leave. Nurses are fed-up to the back teeth. she said.

But SWAHS denied the issue of freeze hiring.

There is no freeze hiring at Sydney West Area Health Service. All SWAHS hospitals take on strategies which ensure that wards and other services are sufficiently staffed to maintain the safety of the patients and other staffs as well.

The health service also said in a statement that they are willing to meet with the NSW Nurses Association to discuss on other matters on staff concerns.