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Essential health workers’ reports of multiple understaffing and safety issues at four major metropolitan hospitals in Adelaide have prompted lightning workplace health-and-safety inspections to ensure the safety of workers and patients.

“We have been alarmed at staff reports of multiple serious safety issues occurring at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” Paul Blackmore, Public Sector Co-ordinator for United Workers Union said today.

“The issues are so serious that workers’ representatives will today conduct workplace health-and-safety inspections at the hospitals to investigate potential breaches of workplace health and safety laws.

“What essential health workers such as hospital cleaners, patient services assistants, orderlies, and sterilising technicians are telling us is that understaffing, the lack of training in PPE and infection control processes, and resulting impacts on the response to COVID-19, are constant issues they face in their workplaces.

“The impact of this understaffing is that cleaning of our hospitals is not being done properly or in some places at all, and in addition many workers have not been trained in how to wear PPE correctly – if it’s available.

“These issues will be the focus of the workplace health and safety inspections.

“Workers, patients and patients’ families have every right to be concerned that corners are being cut, and patient safety is being compromised as a result of the government’s failure to invest in health.”

United Workers Union members have raised their concerns about safety issues amid signs of a SA health system in crisis, including ramping at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for the first time last week, reports of understaffing across facilities and SA Health scrambling to improve patient flows.

“The Marshall Liberal Government only needs to look inside the hospitals to see that the understaffing of these essential workers is also impacting on patient flows,” Mr Blackmore said.

“If the Marshall Liberal Government was fair dinkum about fixing the SA Health crisis, they would be making sure their essential health workers had secure jobs and safe workplaces to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has relied on these workers to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it comes to treating them safely or fairly, they get the cold shoulder.”