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More than 100 essential health workers will walk-off the job today from Adelaide hospitals including Flinders Medical Centre amid concerns about serious understaffing that has left South Australian patients at risk from lapses in infection control and safety standards.

Workers at Flinders Medical Centre, the Repat and Noarlunga Hospital will walk off the job today (EDS: 2pm, with the protest scheduled for 2.30pm outside Flinders Medical Centre’s main entrance) as they express their anger about understaffing and the failure of the Marshall Liberal Government to address concerns about job security.

“Understaffing issues raised by our members highlight the impact of SA’s health crisis, and our members are simply not going to take it any more,”  Public Sector Co-ordinator Paul Blackmore said today.

“Workers are being left emotionally and physically exhausted as they carry the burden of keeping the hospital system running – fronting up every day during Covid-19.

“Hospital cleaners, catering staff, sterilisation technicians and Patient Services Assistants are calling on the Marshall Liberal Government to give them safe, secure jobs but the government is treating them with contempt.”

Mr Blackmore said issues raised by workers ahead of the walk-offs included:

  • 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.
  • Orderlies at Queen Elizabeth and Noarlunga Hospitals being directed to go outside Workplace Health and Safety guidelines and move beds singl
  • Repeated instances across hospitals where correct PPE is either not available, or training is not provided on how to use it safely.
  • Infection control procedures and cleans not being fulfilled to the fullest extent necessary across hospitals due to understaffing.

Mr Blackmore said issues highlighted by workers were the subject of continuing work bans across 46 hospitals and aged care facilities, with staff refusing to do unsafe work so patient, aged care resident and worker safety would not be compromised.

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.”

Today’s actions follow workplace health-and-safety inspections on Tuesday at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital addressing concerns workplace health and safety laws had been breached.