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WHEN: 1.30pm for 1.45pm, Tuesday, December 14.

WHERE: In front of Royal Adelaide Hospital

WHAT: More than 100 essential health workers walk off the job from two major hospitals amid revelations about hospital horror stories.

VISUALS: Workers in hospital uniforms walk off the job from two major hospitals and call for secure jobs.

More than 100 essential health workers are walking off the job at two major Adelaide hospitals today (EDS: TUESDAY) amid revelations of hospital horror stories that have endangered South Australian patients, aged care residents and workers.

The walk-offs will occur at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (EDS: 1.30pm for 1.45pm out the front of Royal Adelaide Hospital) as cleaners, catering staff, sterilisation technicians, disability support workers and patient support assistants call on the Marshall Liberal Government to give them safe, secure jobs.

Serious understaffing issues raised by United Workers Union members reveal patient and resident care being affected in hospitals and aged care facilities including examples of:

  • Medicines being ground up and administered in aged care residents’ food served by personal carers rather than medically qualified staff because of a lack of time to administer the drugs properly.
  • Untrained catering staff being asked to cook, vitamise (blend) food, monitor menus and order for dietary requirements of aged care residents – exposing residents to dietary and choke hazards.
  • Midnight transfers of patients from one hospital room to another to ensure correct staff-to-patient ratios. Some patients have been moved three-to-four times within two days.
  • Food being provided to patients without an updated dietary requirements list. Patients have been given food when they are supposed to be fasting or not given dietary requirements – for example not receiving a low-sugar diet. There have been instances where allergic patients have been given food with their allergen present.
  • Aged care residents left to feed themselves – with those unable to feed themselves receiving their food late and cold.

United Workers Union public sector co-ordinator Paul Blackmore said understaffing in hospitals had meant unacceptable lapses in patient and resident care were occurring regularly.

“It’s not good enough for the South Australian community that understaffed hospitals are resulting in clear and present dangers for hospital patients and aged care residents,” Mr Blackmore said.

“People go to hospital to be cared for, not to be served food they are allergic to.

“Essential health workers have placed specific work bans to stop dangerous work conditions where workers are being asked to bend or break safety rules due to understaffing.

“The fact the Marshall Liberal Government holds a privatisation agenda while these practices occur in the current hospital system only makes essential health workers more determined in their fight for job security.

“The way to provide a better hospital system with better patient flows is to employ enough workers in safe, secure jobs – and that’s what workers are fighting for when they walk off the job at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital today.”

Chris, a Patient Services Assistant, said:

“Our workforce is feeling fatigued and burnt out but still we work on.

“Time and time again we are asked to do double shifts or work alone and again we stand up and work on.

“Staff are struggling physically and mentally but still we work on.

“We will not stand by and let our health system be turned into a profit margin for a multinational corporation.

“We are damn proud to work and serve our community and we will fight this Liberal privatisation agenda to the end.”

More general understaffing issues highlighted by staff at major metropolitan hospitals include:

  • Management directives at the Flinders Medical Centre stopping cleaners from performing all necessary tasks due to understaffing.
  • Almost 600 unfilled shifts for Patient Services Assistants at Flinders Medical Centre in the past month – equating to an average shortfall of 20 Patient Services Assistants every single day.
  • Double shifts are regularly being asked of Flinders Medical Centre Patient Services Assistants to make up the shortfalls.
  • Failure to provide necessary PPE to workers at Noarlunga Hospital, with sterilisation technicians being directed to reuse single-use faceshields.


Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]