Wallaroo, Clare and Port Pirie nurses and midwives unite in the call for government action 

13 November 2019

Nurses and midwives at public health care sites across the Yorke Peninsula and northern region of the State will today step up their call for the State Government to reconsider their opposition to improving conditions, incentives and patient safety measures in the next nursing/midwifery enterprise agreement.

From 2pm today, nurses and midwives from Wallaroo, Clare and Port Pirie hospitals will take stop-work action outside all sites to draw further attention to the failure of enterprise bargaining negotiations to resolve a range of critical measures.

“The fact that so many nurses and midwives are taking such a public stand on these issues clearly demonstrates the significance of what is at stake here,” says Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Elizabeth Dabars AM.

Nurses and midwives are seeking numerous staff and patient safety measures—the bulk of which have been rejected by the State Government—which fall into three major categories:

  • 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; and
  • Attraction and retention of nurses and midwives through better incentives and improved safety and working conditions.

“Nurses and midwives are being expected to care for patients under often-unmanageable working conditions, yet there seems to be no willingness by their employer to commit to measures that can improve the situation for staff and outcomes for patients,” Ms Dabars says.

“We’re talking about a workforce that is regularly expected to work double shifts and return for their next shift after very little sleep,” Ms Dabars says, “and a workforce expected to provide quality care for patients in jam-packed emergency departments or triage patients in ambulances ramped outside hospitals.”

“Nurses and midwives do not spend years obtaining a university education to work in environments where they are punched, kicked, spat on and verbally abused, yet this is the near-daily reality for most staff working in this sector.”

Nurses and midwives are also seeking a fair wage increase to ensure their professions remain nationally competitive and attractive as career options into the future.

Ms Dabars says statistics show that 20 per cent of the workforce is already considering walking away from the profession.

“We know 1 in 5 nurses and midwives in South Australia are already considering leaving, and we know 50 per cent of the workforce will also be lost to retirement in the coming years.”

“If nothing is done to improve conditions and incentives that attract and retain enough nurses and midwives to be able to provide high-quality patient care, the future looks grim for health care in South Australia.”

Today’s industrial stand follows two weeks of action at more than 120 public sector health care sites across South Australia as nurses and midwives raised community awareness of the patient implications of the workforce’s current enterprise bargaining negotiations with the State Government.

Nurses and midwives from the following sites are participating in an hour’s stop-work action outside their site today:

  • Wallaroo Hospital and Health Services
  • Clare Hospital
  • Port Pirie Regional Health Service