WA’s Extreme Nursing Group claims that low wages and poor working conditions in the state’s healthcare system are driving a rush of nurses away from their jobs.
On Sunday, Australian Nursing Federation assistant secretary Janet Reh shrugged off the expectations placed on nurses, saying they were leaving WA because pay was better elsewhere.
“They are overworking, they are not getting breaks, they are repeatedly told to come early, end up late, they are not getting paid overtime[and]when they apply, So they’re being denied – so that’s why they’re leaving,” Ms Reh said.
When asked how many nurses are leaving the workforce, Ms Reh replied: “probably closer to 50 percent”, but the ANF later backtracked on this figure after a rebuke from WA Health for incorrectly answering the question. claimed.
However, Ms Reh said, “a lot of nurses are working long hours or leaving the industry”.
A WA Health spokesperson said there was actually an 11.8 percent increase in workers between June last year and March this year.
He also disputed claims of non-payment of overtime.
The spokesperson said, “All healthcare workers are paid for any overtime they do, and we thank our staff, in particular, for their continued commitment to patient care and their incredible hard work. , as the state responds to this pandemic,” the spokesperson said.
Ms Reh, who faced media following Mark Olsson’s resignation, also said nurses were working “16 hours in a row”.
“Last week I was told: ‘I don’t bother to bring food to work anymore because I don’t get to eat it’,” she said.
She also hit out at the agency’s nurses, who claimed the hospital’s nurses were getting “double pay”.
“These agencies are like blow-ins, possibly overworking because they don’t know the ward.”
But a WA Health spokesperson said agency workers played a “critical role” in healthcare, particularly in remote areas where attracting and retaining staff is “difficult”.
“Healthcare workers in WA are being supported to take leave where possible, to earn a good amount of money and allow them to visit friends and family,” he said.
“Each healthcare provider runs its own employee wellbeing program to create a work environment where employees feel safe, valued and supported.”
A heated debate has erupted amid a wage war between nurses and the state government.
WA nurses feel the hard work and want pay to rise in line with East Coast workers.
This includes a $3000 COVID “thank you” bonus and a deal similar to the 3.5 percent pay increase given to nurses in New South Wales.
Despite threats of action by the ANF, the McGowan government has yet to announce any plans to comply with the demand.
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettem on Sunday called the McGowan government “meant” not to use the state’s $5.7 billion surplus to fund health workers’ pay increases.
“There is no real thank you from the McGowan government for the WA health workers who have done most of the heavy lifting during the pandemic over the past two years,” Ms Mettum said.
She said health workers had helped the McGowan government become popular and were not repaid.
Ms Mettum believed Premier Mark McGowan was waiting to spend his large surplus during an election year.