Lyell McEwin Hospital nurses and midwives take stop-work action

28 October 2019

Lyell McEwin Hospital nurses and midwives are today taking an industrial stand to protest the Marshall Government’s lack of action on their enterprise bargaining agreement—a document designed to ensure the delivery of safe and effective care to South Australians into the future.
The union representing South Australia’s public sector nurses and midwives, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch), says the bargaining claims have three major themes:

  • Safe staffing and skills mix to meet the needs of patients now and in the future;
  • Ensuring the availability of enough nurses and midwives in the future, given 50 per cent of the workforce is expected to retire in the coming years; and
  • Attraction and retention of nurses and midwives through better incentives and improved safety and working conditions.

The stop-work action is being held from 2pm during a double-staffed handover period at the hospital to ensure continuity of care to patients during the one-hour protest.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM says nurses and midwives across the State are frustrated at having to take such drastic action to shine a spotlight on patient and staff safety.

“Putting patient care first is what nurses and midwives do for a living, but they would much prefer to be doing that from inside the hospital,” Ms Dabars says.

“It is a sad indictment on any government when its nurses and midwives decide there is no other option than to leave our hospitals and health facilities to highlight the patient safety implications of what is being proposed.”

“Many nurses and midwives will of course stay behind to care for patients, wearing campaign apparel to champion the cause from within the hospital.”

Nurses and midwives at the Lyell McEwin Hospital are shining a light on the effects of the government’s attack on night-shift through a proposal to reduce the break between shifts.

“What the State Government is proposing will compound existing problems when staff are on on-call and have their sleep patterns disrupted by being called back to work. It would place staff and patients at further risk from the effects of fatigue.”

Nursing and midwifery staff at the Elizabeth Vale hospital will be among the first of thousands of staff—from more than 120 State public health care sites and services—that will be participating in industrial action from this week.

The actions follow months of enterprise agreement negotiations, during which the State Government rejected almost every patient and staff safety measure being sought by public sector nurses and midwives.

“Nurses and midwives are taking this action now in the hope the State Government will reconsider its position on critical measures that will impact the quality of health care in South Australia.”

“Nurses and midwives are standing up to ensure our public health services are safely staffed, adequately resourced and offer working conditions that attract and retain people in the professions. Without such a commitment from the State Government, it is patients who bear the ultimate cost.”

The current enterprise agreement for public sector nurses and midwives expired last month.

From 2-3pm today nurses and midwives will undertake a protest walk along the footpath from the Haydown Road entrance to the Oldham Road entrance of the Lyell McEwin Hospital.