ANMF is assisting members employed at Mercy Hospital for Women to address serious staffing and workload issues across the hospital.
In January, members in birthing and newborn services raised their concerns with ANMF about inadequate staffing and skill mix, missing meal breaks, burnout issues and clinical and workplace health and safety risks.
ANMF understands from members that Mercy Health management is moving staff at the Heidelberg hospital from other wards and units to cover vacancies and shortfalls in birthing and newborn services. This is causing inadequate staffing levels in those other units and wards.
At an ANMF members meeting held on 15 January, members passed a resolution calling on Mercy Health management to address the inadequate staffing levels.
Members requested management take immediate steps to employ and roster sufficient numbers of midwives and/or nurses to provide high quality care consistent with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s codes and guidelines.
They also called on management to comply with the Safe Patient Care Act (Nurse Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015 by staffing according to the number of beds or birthing suites available to be occupied.
Their resolution also called for the implementation of systems of work to prevent exhaustion, fatigue and unreasonable stress required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
Members have also requested dedicated time for midwife educators and clinical midwife educators to establish systems of work to support graduate midwives and undergraduate and postgraduate midwives to transition to practice. Graduates are starting in January and February.
Mercy Health management has not agreed to ANMF requests for data confirming bed and suite occupancy per shift over the past six months.
Members across 10 wards and services, including emergency, birthing suites, special care nursery, neonatal intensive care, post-anesthesia care and operating theatres, have started collecting staffing and patient numbers on a per shift basis.
The data mapping will take place over a one-month period to assist ANMF understand the extent of the staffing issues and the EFT and skill mix required to address the shortfalls.
Mercy Health also refused to provide data for the number of double shifts, overtime hours and sick leave over the same six-month period.
Members are now also documenting all double shifts and extensive overtime via the VHIMs system and reporting to ANMF as part of the data mapping project.
ANMF and ANMF Job Reps will be meeting weekly with Mercy Health management for a number of weeks to continue to raise and address members’ concerns.