Mercy Hospital for Women has responded to ANMF members’ concerns about serious staffing and workload issues, saying it is committed to working with ANMF to address the issues.
In a letter to Mercy Hospital for Women management on 10 February ANMF described Mercy’s management of staff vacancies and workload as ‘inappropriate’, with insufficient staff rostered in advance, as well as a high incidence of double shifts, and continued incidences of overtime, missed meal breaks and inadequate skill mix.
ANMF said that as a result of staffing and workload issues, existing staff were becoming fatigued and either taking leave or resigning, compounding the staffing issue as well as clinical risk.
At a meeting with ANMF, Mercy management confirmed that members are not required to undertake double shifts or do overtime where they are fatigued or where it would cause concerns. ANMF has encouraged members to consider their health and safety, fatigue and professional obligations prior to agreeing to work a double shift or overtime.
In January Mercy 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 has had five meetings and several correspondence exchanges with Mercy Hospital for Women management since the members raised the issues, seeking appropriate action to be taken to address the concerns and providing detailed examples of the serious risks caused by inadequate action.
ANMF members have been documenting OHS and clinical risks including double shifts, missed breaks and overtime via the Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS) and reporting to ANMF as part of a data mapping project.
Mercy Hospital for Women management has agreed to roster Level 5 to 24 beds per ward for six weeks and to keep maximum and minimum bed occupancy details.
Management has also committed to a review of the current escalation procedure, as well as the care of late preterm baby procedure, with ANMF’s involvement. Consultation will also occur on a registered undergraduate student of midwifery (RUSOM) model trial on Level 5 wards, with investigation regarding root causes of incidents and incident reports in a HSR working group as well as in meetings with ANUMs.
ANMF thanks the Mercy Hospital for Women Job Representatives, Health and Safety Representatives and members for their responses so far and ask all members to continue escalating concerns and incidents both to management, through VHIMS and to ANMF.