Union members will take to the streets on Friday as industrial action over conditions at Launceston General Hospital’s emergency department continues to escalate.
Members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch and Health and Community Services Union are expected to be joined by hundreds of concerned community members for a street rally.
It comes as ANMF members enter their 57th consecutive daily vigil outside the LGH emergency department.
The union is calling the government to address a lack of inpatient beds, bed blocking, ambulance ramping, and associated risks they claim are putting patient and staff safety at risk.
ANMF Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said the rally would be calling on the Tasmanian Health Service and Health Minister Michael Ferguson to act on their demands.
“Members are frustrated by the lack of action despite providing the minister with a number of solutions that they believe will help to alleviate the bed block,” she said.
“Members know that there are beds that are immediately available that could be opened.
“However, the Tasmanian Government has refused to allocate the appropriate funds to open and safely staff these beds, it is incredibly frustrating for members and patients alike.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government was taking action to resolve hospital pressures, including the implementation of a transit lounge to assist with managing patients awaiting discharge.
“This is now in place and patient flow improvements are already being seen as a result, which is making beds available quicker,” he said.
“We have increased nursing staff levels on Ward 4D, which has now enabled the staffing of 24 permanent beds on the ward, and we are recruiting assistants in nursing to provide more support and ease the pressure on current workload.
“The government has opened all previously closed wards, employed more staff and is always open to doing more.”
The ANMF first launched its Bring Your Own Bed campaign in March, with members holding daily vigils since July 4.
Ms Shepherd said they wanted Mr Ferguson to come and meet with emergency department staff, to help him better understand the situation.
“We are hoping that this will provide him with insight into why he needs to take action for the people of his electorate, and the broader Tasmanian community,” she said.
Mr Ferguson said he would always listen to union concerns.
“I regularly visit the LGH and speak with staff, and visited again last week,” he said.
“We will continue to engage constructively with the ANMF and will always listen and consider ways to provide more support our patients and hardworking staff.
“I am also meeting with the union in the near future.”
Friday’s rally will follow a vigil outside the LGH emergency department from 1.19pm, and continue down Charles Street from 1.30pm and Prince’s Park from 1.45pm.
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