Staff at Launceston General Hospital’s emergency department are at breaking point, according to union members.
This week the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania branch escalated its industrial action.
Since Wednesday daily vigils have been held outside the LGH emergency department, calling on the government to address in-patient capacity.
LGH emergency department ANMF workplace representative Tom Millens said bed-lock had created a “crisis” and that staff were sick of being ignored.
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“The LGH is already at full capacity,” he said.
“Just last night, there were two confirmed cases of influenza A. The flu has arrived and we cannot put this off any further. This is about safety, this is about life, this is about death and we will not go away.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government had acknowledged the ANMF’s requests, through its winter plan and the opening of 19 beds in ward 4D.
Funding for eight new adolescent beds are also expected by 2019-20 as part of the ward 4K development.
“It is disappointing to see the ANMF ramping up industrial action when we are doing everything we can to boost health services for the North and we have already agreed to what the union has asked for in relation to hospital beds at the LGH,” he said.
“All wards that we can open are now open, and so opening more beds means building more buildings, which we are doing.”
ANMF Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said the union initially raised its concerns to the government in March.
“Members are fearful that that no measures to improve patient flow and in-patient capacity at the LGH will be implemented by the THS and the Tasmanian Government, aside from the long-term capital works which are due for completion in 2023,” she said.
“Members are concerned that should the current situation in relation to bed block and increasing presentations to the LGH Emergency Department continue till then, patient safety will be compromised.”
Ms Shepherd said a meeting with THS management was scheduled for next week.