The government is doing everything it can to “practically support patients and staff” at Launceston General Hospital, according to Health Minister Michael Ferguson.
On Tuesday the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch escalated its industrial action, with support of the Health and Community Services Union.
Union members will now wear campaign badges and t-shirts and plan to hand out information cards to patients, in a bid to raise awareness for their campaign.
Mr Ferguson said it was “disappointing” to see unions escalating industrial action, given the government was already taking action to relieve pressures. This includes the implementation of a transit lounge, increased nursing staff on Ward 4D and the recruitment of assistants in nursing.
“In this context, the question has to be asked why the ANMF is increasing industrial action, when the government is doing everything it can to practically support patients and staff,” he said.
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”The ANMF may have forgotten that the government has opened all previously closed wards, employed more staff and is always open to doing more.”
However, ANMF Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said the measures would not resolve ongoing issues of bed block, ambulance ramping and a “dangerously overcrowded” emergency department.
The union is calling for permanent staffing for the full 29 beds on Ward 4D, and the implementation of a 24/7 triage nurse for the emergency department waiting room.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the industrial action highlighted the enormous pressures faced by hospital and emergency department staff at LGH.
“The minister for health has done nothing to address their concerns, and that is why more unions are coming out on behalf of their workers,” she said.
A community rally is planned for September.
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