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Nurses and midwives are not robots: maintain elective surgery pause

Nurses and midwives are not robots: maintain elective surgery pause

The Victorian nurses and midwives union is calling on the Andrews Government to maintain the public sector elective surgery pause to provide a critical buffer for a beyond exhausted workforce.

The statewide elective surgery pause is a protective measure that ensures additional patients do not unexpectedly require intensive care following an operation. It also provides a surge workforce that can be redeployed.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has surveyed more than 50,000 public sector members. Almost 40 per cent of nurses and midwives desperately need annual leave approved in February, March and April.

Nurses and midwives have been working in extraordinarily challenging surge workforce models. These models involve nursing and midwifery students and allied health replacing nurses and midwives to make up the numbers.

An elective surgery pause extension will provide more time to understand if we have reached the peak, including impact of the start of the school year. It will also provide time to measure the physical and psychological state of the hyper-stressed workforce.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said ‘ “Frontline hero” is an empty label when you hear politicians and surgeons, refreshed from their summer holidays, declaring the health system has spare capacity.

‘Don’t call nurses and midwives heroes and then treat them like robots.

‘Elective surgery is not a choice, and we don’t want to delay life changing operations a day longer than necessary,’ Mr Gilbert said. ‘But I’m certain that the same patients whose surgery has been delayed do not want their surgery undertaken in a hospital without nurses and midwives.

‘In a crisis, it is smart not to use up all your reserves and private hospital nurses and doctors are a surge workforce under the code brown declaration that may well be needed over the next few weeks.

‘We need more time to help nurses and midwives, who have held our health system together in a once in a century crisis to debrief, understand what they have just been through and take some time to recharge.

‘Most of all they need the Victorian community and our leaders to understand and care about what they have just been through, not tell them to get back to work like nothing has just happened.