Statewide industrial action will be undertaken in the state’s public hospitals next week.
Australian Nurses and Midwifery Foundation Tasmanian branch secretary Emily Shepherd said as of 8am on September 10, Tasmanian public sector nurses and midwives would stop “going above and beyond” their duties and would be claiming all entitlements.
Ms Shepard said the action was in response to the state government’s offer of a two per cent wage rise, and to highlight the hard work of nurses and midwives in the public sector by “removing goodwill”.
“By offering a two per cent wage rise, this would mean nurses and midwives in Tasmania would become the worst paid in the country,” she said.
Launceston General Hospital registered nurse Kylie Stubbs works in the operating suite.
“On a day-to-day basis, we’re working short-staffed, we’re doing unforced overtime, we’re missing meal breaks, we’re working late meal breaks,” she said.
“Generally, there’s a feeling of not giving the best patient care that we’re capable of giving due to those reasons.
“We need to retain and recruit more nurses so that we can give the best patient care possible, and stop compromising patient safety.”
Ms Shepard said nurses and midwives would always ensure safe patient care, and the industrial action would not compromise patient care in any way, shape, or form.
“We do understand that it will require the Tasmanian government, the Tasmanian Health Service to implement additional support staff in terms of cleaners, clerical staff, and also ward aides, especially after hours and on weekends when nurses and midwives traditionally, through their goodwill, have picked up those duties,” she said.
“The industrial action is designed to highlight the goodwill that nurses and midwives give to the Tasmanian government on a daily basis.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the state government was taking action to relieve hospital pressures.
Last month, Mr Ferguson announced a $1.5 million, six month support package for the Launceston General and Royal Hobart hospitals which included additional nurses, extended pathology, more bed cleaning capacity, and initiatives to improve patient flow.
Another measure to ease pressure at the LGH was the implementation of a transit lounge.
“We are addressing growing demand in our health system across Australia, and in Tasmania, with thousands more people attending hospital, and we are focused on listening to Tasmanians and meeting that need,” he said.
Ms Shepard said the action would continue until an improved offer was made by the state government.