Monday, August 19, 2013

AUSTRALIA - Nurses union holds crisis talks with SA Health on chronic overcrowding

The nurses' union has met with SA Health to discuss solutions to ongoing overcrowding in emergency wards at the Flinders Medical Centre and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Last year, the State Government said it would act on all 52 of the recommendations of a review done by West Australian health specialist Dr Mark Monaghan to reduce ramping.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation says those recommendations have not been fully implemented and is not ruling out industrial action if an agreement is not reached.
The Federation's Rob Bonner says the union will meet its members later today to talk through plans that could ease the pressure.
Mr Bonner says nurses want a long-term, systemic fix to day-to-day problems.
"One of the issues is how do we get patients out of the hospital and into disability beds or aged care beds or back to country hospitals where they came from in the first place," he said.
"That's why the emergency department patients can't get into the acute beds at Flinders or Royal Adelaide because we've got those other people in beds they don't need to be in.
"This dispute has never been about a workload issue.
"It's about the environment in which those nurses are struggling to meet patients' care needs so whether you're in corridors, whether you're delivering care in a waiting room."
Mr Bonner says the problem is taking its toll on hospital staff.
"There is no doubt nurses are suffering in terms of their health and safety through the current environment so I guess we would expect if these things are not addressed there will be an adverse effect on WorkCover claims," he said.
SA Health deputy chief executive Jenny Richter says the department is looking at ways to solve the problem.
"Part of our conversations have been around getting the right balance between elective and emergency patients through our system," he said.
"These matters are quite complex.
"We continue to have an increase in demand at Flinders Medical Centre so we're required to continue to revise the strategies that we're using to improve the system that we use to move patients through our system."

'Safety issue'

The department is also under pressure from the union representing medical professionals, which has rejected the terms of the latest enterprise bargaining agreement.
The Salaried Medical Officers Association ran full-page newspaper advertisements on the weekend, claiming they will have to work unsafe hours under proposed rosters.
Association president David Pope says the agreement could potentially see specialists on call for 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We think this is a public safety issue. The public need to know that the Government are trying to treat doctors in this sort of way, trying to intrude on the care that doctors deliver to patients," he said.
"If doctors are tired, then they can't make good decisions and if they make decisions which aren't in the best interests of the patient, that's going to potentially cause people to die or suffer avoidable harm."
The State Government rejected the claims, calling them 'mischievous'.
Health Minister Jack Snelling says specialists are only being asked to volunteer to be rostered under similar conditions to other hospital staff.
"This is about better patient outcomes, better care for patients and all we're doing is simply asking our senior specialists to make themselves available to work rosters in the same way more junior doctors, nurses and emergency department doctors do at the moment," he said.
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