Registered nurse Thomas Millen spends a large part of his night shift apologising to patients who come into the emergency department.
The Launceston General Hospital ED RN has become part of a new campaign from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, launched on Monday.
The Bring Your Own Bed campaign aims to address the chronic lack of in-patient beds at the LGH and call on the Tasmanian Health Service and state government to open more beds at the hospital.
ANMF spokeswoman Emily Shepherd said ANMF members had begun raising concerns about the lack of in-patient beds in August 2016 but immediate action was needed.
“It’s not unrealistic for there to be 20 patients in beds in the emergency department,” she said.
Only 20 per cent of patients who present to Tasmania’s emergency department are admitted to in-patient beds within four hours.
“This means patients are at increased risk of adverse health outcomes.”
Mr Millen said issues with the emergency department beds had been raised for a while but it “all blurs into a horrible nightmare” because there has been no action.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson called the industrial action “difficult to comprehend” given the incoming government had agreed to what the union was asking for.
“Not only have we announced 40 new beds, including a new ward as part of a major redevelopment of the LGH, planning on these works will begin in our first 100 days,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the first beds will open next year with the remainder by 2023.
However, Ms Shepherd said the campaign was focused on immediate action to increase bed stock. Ms Shepherd acknowledged the government had made steps to open a new ward, 4D, but said more was needed to address the demand.
“The beds are opened on as needs basis but these beds need to be opened permanently,” she said.