Nurses and midwives to take industrial stand for patient care 

21 October 2019

South Australian nurses and midwives have overwhelmingly decided to take industrial action from next week if agreement with the Marshall Government cannot be reached on several key measures that risk their ability to provide safe and effective care to South Australians.

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

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM says the decision to take action is one that nurses and midwives do not take lightly.

“Ensuring the delivery of the best possible care to the community is at the heart of what it means to be a nurse or a midwife. Nurses and midwives would much prefer to be getting on with their calling of providing the safe, quality care to South Australians,” Ms Dabars says.

“The sad reality is that nurses and midwives feel they are left with little choice but to take industrial action to get the State Government to sit up and take notice of the patient safety implications that are significantly at risk,” she says.

The rejected measures fall into three areas, all ensuring nurses and midwives can continue to meet the care needs of South Australians:

  • Safe staffing—because for every extra patient in a nurse’s care there is a 12% increase in patient deaths.
  • A strong, future workforce—because South Australia is set to lose 1 in 2 nurses to retirement in the next six years.
  • Conditions that attract and retain staff to the workforce—because at least 20 percent of nurses and midwives are already considering leaving their positions amid worsening working conditions and issues of violence and safety. Nurses and midwives are also seeking a fair and reasonable wage increase to address rising living costs and ensure the professions remain attractive career options.

While Ms Dabars says the decision to take action, and the form that action will take, has been entirely up to public sector nurses and midwives, the ANMF (SA Branch) is 100 per cent in support.

“We need to ensure our public health services are safely staffed, adequately resourced and offers working conditions that attract and retain people in nursing and midwifery professions—and these are the critical areas that remain unresolved after months of negotiations.”

“Public sector nurses and midwives are not prepared to be stalled any longer on an agreement that expired last month.”

She says industrial action will begin from next week unless the Marshall Government agrees to review its rejections of the patient safety measures being sought by nurses and midwives.

“Any industrial action SA nurses and midwives undertake will of course not impact on patient safety—ensuring the community can continue to access to safe, quality care is the primary reason our members have decided to take this action.”