Illawarra nurses have thrown their support behind a statewide campaign for better pay and increased staff ratios.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) branches have voted in record numbers for the claim, which calls on the O'Farrell government to build on the safer staffing levels introduced in 2011.
A record 215 branches, representing more than 30,000 public sector nurses and midwives in NSW, have voted over the last two weeks.
The 11 Illawarra and South Coast branches were among the 214 who voted to endorse the claim. Only one branch in NSW voted against.
A key feature of the claim is guaranteed safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high-dependency units, rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 per cent per year pay rises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a pay rise of more than $70 per week, or more than $3800 per year, by July 2014.
NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said the strong branch vote shows NSW nurses and midwives are committed to providing safer patient care across the entire public hospital and community health system.
"Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less-stressful working environment," Mr Holmes said.
"This record vote indicates just how committed they are to extending the benefits to all patients around the state."
"The strong vote also sends a clear message to the state government about the nurses and midwives' determination to maintain and extend safer staffing levels."
The union will present the claim to the Health Ministry later this week.