The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian Branch (ANMF), alongside workplace delegates, attended the Tasmanian Industrial Commission today, Monday 31 January 2022, following the lodgement of an urgent application regarding unsafe staffing at the State’s major public hospitals and testing and vaccination clinics following borders opening on December 15, 2021.
The ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary, Emily Shepherd said today, “resorting to lodging a dispute with the Tasmanian Industrial Commission is not our preferred option, however, when significant and ongoing attempts by the ANMF to seek a solution to unsafe staffing levels as a result of COVID- 19, through the Tasmanian Health Service and the Department of Health were not forthcoming, the ANMF was left with no other option”.
While the ANMF was able to secure daily meetings with the Department of Health which has improved communication, there have been no specific plans provided for a way forward that will resolve members ongoing and sustained unreasonable workloads. Members have provided us with current vacancies and noted that requests for casual staff to fill vacancies will not be able to cover these gaps.
“The ANMF and members are beyond tired of waiting for a Department and Government to uphold the industrial requirement of the nurses and midwives’ agreement, especially seeing as the repeated attempts by the ANMF to seek a workforce plan prior to December 15, 2021, were ignored,” Ms Shepherd said.
The agreed outcomes in the Commission today were:
- Data on vacancy levels – fixed term, permanent, sick leave, broken down to wards and units to be provided to the ANMF prior to a meeting on Friday 4 February 2022.
- The THS to consider workload concerns in the vaccination and testing clinics
- Additional administrative support, so that non-nursing duties are not completed by nursing staff. A recruitment process for Assistants in Nursing (AINs) is to commence as a matter of urgency.
- Members request a float nurse is allocated in wards and units so staff can be relieved to take breaks. This was put forward as a suggestion and will be considered.
- Service reduction will be considered should safe staffing levels are not maintained.
- A further COVID-19 allowance meeting to be held this week.
- The ANMF requested that the Tasmanian Government provide in writing to our membersindemnification for any liability to all Nurses, Midwives, Assistants in Nursing and Health Service Officers for any adverse event or adverse patient outcome if benchmarked or agreed safe staffing levels are not achieved on any given shift and/or if shifts are filled by the above staff working overtime and double shifts.
- A follow up report back conference is scheduled for Monday 7 February 2022.
The ANMF will work collaboratively with the Department of Health and the Tasmanian Health Service to establish safe staffing outcomes for our members prior to Monday 7 February, however, will not rule out industrial action if solutions are not agreed by then.
Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021