Marshall Government 'putting lives at risk'

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19 March 2020

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) has launched a blistering attack on the Marshall Government, accusing it of putting lives at risk over nurses’ working conditions.

“Nurses have never before confronted such challenging conditions in hospital wards; violence, drug-afflicted patients, staff shortages and then you add the pressures of COVID Coronavirus – it is a dangerous mix,” ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said.

“We simply do not have enough nurses to cope … already too many nurses have been burnt out and are struggling with their current workloads.

“The reality is nurses are at breaking point and we can’t afford to have a compromised health system during a time of national emergency”.

Ms Dabars says nurses had been hopeful of being able to resolve a range of issues relating to basic working conditions through a new enterprise bargaining agreement which was promised yesterday but not delivered.

“This whole protracted back-and-forth bargaining process has been going on since May 2019 and then at a time when nurses are under more pressure than ever before, they have been let down badly,” she said.

“The ANMF (SA Branch) has been seeking to ensure public health services are safely staffed, adequately resourced and offer working conditions that attract and retain the best people in the profession.

“The State Government can’t even give us a timeframe as to when a decision might even be made. At a time when South Australians are facing unprecedented uncertainty, we must deliver some certainty for our nurses and midwives who are at the coalface,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“Everybody, from the Prime Minister down, is talking about how important nurses are and will be as the frontline force in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and we can’t get a decision on basic working rights from the Marshall Government.

“Our under-paid, under-staffed and quite frankly under-siege nurses are set to go into battle in a manner unprecedented in modern times … placing themselves in imminent danger.

“Yet, what we are seeing from the Marshall Government is that they prefer to squabble and procrastinate over critical working conditions at a time when everything possible should be being done to protect the health and wellbeing of the community,” Ms Dabars said.