Will Hodgman

Premier of Tasmania

8 November 2018

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health

Reckless union bosses demands on members putting patients at risk

Work ban demands from ANMF and HACSU bosses will increase emergency department waiting times, prevent young patients getting care and potentially cause patient harm.

This is inexcusable, regardless of opinion on affordable and fair wages policy.

Current union leader work ban demands being pushed onto union members include:

  • Refusing to allow staff to operate the Mersey Hospital operating theatre where patients were booked and funded, for tomorrow but have been cancelled or scheduled later at other facilities, including children requiring important dental treatment under general anaesthetic.
  • Refusing to undertake routine cleaning, including not emptying patient rubbish bins, and not cleaning beds when patients are discharged.
  • Refusing to process pharmacy deliveries for patients.
  • Refusing to transfer patients to and from the Emergency Department and Radiology, such as when they require an x-ray.
  • Refusing to allow staff to be deployed from one area of the hospital to another according to patient demand.
  • Refusing to transfer patients from public hospital to private hospitals, which means fewer beds available for public patients and unnecessary waiting times.

By any measure these are reckless and extreme demands from union bosses who are more interested in playing politics than negotiating in good faith and protecting patients’ safety.

They will put pressure on patient flow at our hospitals and could result in higher escalation levels.

None of this is justifiable because patient care must not be played or used as bargaining chips.

We believe that all of Tasmania’s hardworking health staff deserve a pay rise, but it must be fair, it must be sustainable, and it must be affordable.

At present there is an offer of a six per cent wage increase over three years on the table over and above current salaries.

It’s a fair offer which allows the Government to continue to invest record amounts into the services and infrastructure our growing State needs.

The leadership of the ANMF and HACSU should put the safety of Tasmanians seeking medical care first and withdraw these unsafe and inappropriate directions immediately.

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