The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Tasmanian Branch has been inundated with contact from members across the State who are on the frontline of dealing with a significant outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron virus.
Tasmanian Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd said today “not only have members in testing and vaccination clinics been overrun with increased requirements, but all areas of the health service are also battling with staffing shortages, which is causing significant workloads, stress and fatigue on an already fragile nursing and midwifery workforce.
“Whilst the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) has escalated to level 3 on account of their COVID-19 escalation plan due to staffing shortages, they and all other areas are getting by with the goodwill of nurses and midwives picking up extra shifts, working overtime and doing double shifts.
“Our concerns regarding an absence of a workforce plan prior to borders being opened, have now been realised just two weeks after. Nursing and midwifery members across all sectors are exhausted, anxious and yet still working themselves into the ground to ensure that health services keep operating through working overtime and double shifts.
“This goodwill should not have been relied upon by the State Government to keep our health system running once COVID-19 was in our community – it had nearly two years to plan and prevent what we are now seeing across the nursing and midwifery workforce. However, the Government still has the chance to recognise and value nursing and midwifery staff members by paying them a COVID-19 allowance, which will aid in retaining a desperately needed workforce who are at complete breaking point,” Ms Shepherd said.
The ANMF has in the last 24 hours managed to secure daily briefings with the Department of Health where issues can be quickly escalated and dealt with. This will also hopefully include discussions around workforce sustainability and will allow the ANMF to provide a tired and disheartened workforce some certainty that they will be supported with service reductions ongoing to ensure safety for themselves and their patients.
Ms Shepherd said the ANMF welcomes the daily consultation with the Department and is relieved that members desperate concerns for timely information and support have been heeded. The ANMF will raise concerns on a daily basis in order to provide members with timely resolutions to industrial, safety and wellbeing matters.
The ANMF is incredibly proud of the way in which yet again all nurses, midwives and care workers have risen to this challenge, but thanks and words are not enough – tangible support and a COVID-19 allowance is what is required to ensure a sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce for the future.
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ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021