Nurses and midwives rally outside Port Augusta Hospital

Port Augusta nurses and midwives have rallied outside of the hospital, calling for safer patient care provisions in their enterprise bargaining agreement. They are supported by SA Ambulance workers.
Port Augusta nurses and midwives have rallied outside of the hospital, calling for safer patient care provisions in their enterprise bargaining agreement. They are supported by SA Ambulance workers.

Nurses and midwives at the Port Augusta Hospital have taken a stand against the state government today, rallying for safer patient care.

They join thousands of colleagues around the state dedicating their breaks and days off to participate in the action, calling for patient care provisions in their enterprise bargaining agreement.

In regional areas, nurses and midwives are particularly concerned about the effects of the Marshall government's proposed staffing models and a perceived lack of commitment to help attract and retain staff in rural and remote areas.

An Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation rep, and local mental health nurse, attending the rally told The Transcontinental how every day being understaffed is a struggle.

"I cant remember a time we actually had a full staff load. We are supposed to carry 25 clients for one full time worker - it's not safe, we are not able to provide the support and care to our patients that we want to," she said.

"It's about safe work for us as nurses, but also the safety of our patients.

"What happened to patient centred care? That's why we came into nursing, to help people and we are not able to just because we don't have the support of our government to give us enough staff to look after our patients and to give us the education that we need."

Today's protest action follows a written response from the state government this week confirming their rejection of most staff and patient safety measures proposed by nurses and midwives during months of enterprise bargaining negotiations.

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

"If you (state government) really valued us and the patients we are looking after, you would be providing more support. You would be providing more staff," the rep said.

"Wheres the incentive to get us more nurses in the country so we can provide better patient care? Why does our community have to suffer and not get really good patient care that they can get from metro hospitals."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) CEO Elizabeth Dabars has labelled the response from the South Australian government as "insulting".

"The state government is proposing models that would permit staffing levels to fall below the current agreed minimum or cap staffing to prevent any increases even if patient conditions deteriorate. This would place staff and patients at further risk from the effects of stress, unmanageable workloads and burnout," she said.

"Nurses and midwives are taking this action 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."