10,000 signatures reached
To: Steven Marshall MP, SA Government
Pandemic pay for South Australia's frontline nurses
This is an open letter to South Australians and especially to our Premier and State Government, written by an Emergency nurse who has seen colleagues at breaking point in a health system that is buckling under the pressure from the COVID pandemic. Like our colleagues interstate, we are asking to be appropriately recognised and remunerated for the exhausting and relentless conditions we are currently working in - conditions which we know are going to get even worse.
Members of the public, we have always been here to help you. Please help us now by signing this petition.
Why is this important?
Dear Steven Marshall,
I’m writing to you relatively early in SA’s ‘real’ COVID experience, hopeful that we can come out of this having lost less frontline nurses than other states have throughout the pandemic, hopeful that you can save us in time. Like other states, hospitals here are over capacity and overwhelmed, short-staffed due to isolation and sick leave, and many exhausted nurses have left the profession all together. Along with other healthcare workers and hospital support staff, WE, your nurses, are the South Australian front line against COVID. We’re holding it together now because each hour of overtime we do, each extra shift we pick up and each rostered shift that we don’t call in sick for makes it a little less hard for our colleagues. I’m writing to you early to give you a chance to take action, before our working conditions are anywhere near as bad as they’re going to get, before we are overwhelmed.
I feel for the many scared friends and family members around Australia that I woke up to messages from today, saying it’s “their turn”, they’ve got COVID. I fear for the vulnerable that are at risk or exposed. I am anxious about how we are going to cope with the increased demand; the staffing levels on the frontline are critically low and also critically junior, as more nurses, doctors and support staff get sick, get burnt out or know what’s coming and frankly just can’t face it for another day. The media publishes the number of patients hospitalised with COVID, but these numbers don’t include the dozens we see, assess and discharge from Emergency each day. As more and more people come to us for help, there are less and less of us able to help them.
We all chose this career to help our community and to make a difference. But compassion for people, passion for doing good and the joy of working with such an amazing team can only go so far in pandemic conditions, only so far to combat fatigue from overwork and understaffing, dehydration from PPE, sore faces from N95 masks and abuse from anti-vaxxers and scared patients alike. Only so far to combat the guilt and anxiety caused by knowing that we can only spread staffing so thin, only don and doff so fast, waiting for the moment that we will make a mistake, or compromise our care a little too much, or break down all together.
Our fellow nurses interstate have had their hard work acknowledged and recognised with disaster payments and a pay rise… compensation for these tough conditions and to give thanks for the work they continue to do in a workplace that is dangerous, draining and demanding - and only becoming more so. I am asking for the same for South Australia, for myself and my colleagues working on the frontline during the pandemic. Some recognition to help us nurses see this through.
To our patients, we are sorry. We know you want your loved ones with you while you’re sick or injured in ED, but we are trying to keep you and them safe by not allowing visitors. Please be kind to us. Making you wait while we gown up, mask up, shield up, glove up to enter your room and answer your buzzer and then doffing properly to do it all again between patients or to run to an emergency, is just as stressful for us as it is for you and we are doing our best and more.
To the public, please get vaccinated, get boosted, do your research responsibly and talk to us if you are still unsure. Yes, there are risks associated with vaccines, as with any medications, but there are more risks associated with COVID and we can tell you from personal experience and observation that being vaccinated damn well makes a difference. Come to us early if you need help, don’t wait til it’s too late, but if you’re ok please stay home, leave ambulances and hospital beds for those who really need them, with COVID or with heart attacks, strokes, sepsis, trauma and all those other things that haven’t gone away just because COVID is here. And please sign this petition, calling for pandemic pay for frontline nurses. Help make sure there are enough of us left to help you, as each day gets harder for us all.
Steven Marshall, St Nicola, SA Gov, hear our plea. We are here to serve but we are already burning out. We know what’s coming and we are scared.
(a worried Emergency nurse, on behalf of all worried nurses)