Nurses and midwives, ambulance and doctors take health crisis to the top


17 January  2022

The three peak groups representing more than 25,000 of South Australia’s Nurses, Midwives, Care Workers, Ambulance Workers and Doctors will be meeting with SA Premier Steven Marshall, to discuss the urgent action the Marshall Government must take to fix South Australia’s health crisis.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch), Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) and South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) met yesterday to discuss the pressures on South Australia’s health system that has caused ramping, overcrowding, and delayed and missed care. 

“Health professionals have and continue to work short-staffed, double shifts and under extreme pressure and duress. Ultimately, this results in poorer service and poorer health outcomes for the community for whom our members care,” said all three unions in a joint letter sent to the Premier on Friday 14 January. 

“Collectively, we have warned successive Governments, including the Marshall Government, about workforce shortages and the pressure on the system over many years,” said ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.

“Most recently, we raised our concerns about the existing pressures and the inability of the system to cope in the present circumstances and our concern about our system’s ability to cope with the planned opening of the borders on 23 November 2021.”

The Premier’s office has contacted the three unions and agreed to a meeting tomorrow. 

“It is great to see the strong advocacy of our peak organisations forcing the hand of the Premier,” said Ms Dabars.

“We look forward to meeting with the Premier so we can achieve meaningful results with proper planning and resources for our members so they can continue to provide the much-needed health care to South Australians.”

The joint letter acknowledged that despite many calls from the ANMF (SA Branch), AEA and SASMOA, and the advice of the Chief Public Health Officer not to open South Australia’s borders and allow the risk of Omicron to spread throughout the community, they still chose to. 

“We are increasingly concerned and worried that as the number of COVID positive cases continue to escalate, including close and casual contacts of COVID positive cases, we need these issues addressed urgently before South Australia hits its peak,” said Ms Dabars.  

The number of COVID cases continues to escalate within the community, causing members of these unions to experience: 

• Unprecedented Ambulance delays – up to 7 hours for emergency cases. 
• Increasingly working short staffed and extended shifts – working up to 18 hours per day, with no end in sight. 
• Lack of Personal Protective Equipment – with staff being asked to wash and reuse.
 • Overflowing hazardous waste bins. 
• Lack of breaks to remove their Personal Protective Equipment, leading to dehydration, fatigue and the risk of skin break-down due to the pressure of masks.

“Fatigue is at an all-time high, and morale is at an all-time low. Our members are increasingly desperate about their ability to care for our community. They are also worried about the mental and physical impact on themselves and their colleagues,” the joint letter stated.

You can read the letter to the Premier here.