10,000 signatures reached
To: Premier Peter Malinauskas and Chris Picton (Minister for Health)
Pandemic pay for South Australia's frontline nurses
Please help to prevent any more burnout... show our new state leaders that your nurses are important to you, just as your safety is paramount to us.
This is an updated 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 and are now struggling with the emerging demands of the 'new normal'.
Like our colleagues interstate, we are asking to be appropriately recognised and remunerated for the exhausting and relentless conditions (physical, social and emotional) that we continue to face... but more importantly some help to prevent any more of our colleagues burning out of their demanding roles.
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Why is this important?
Dear Premier Malinauskas,
As predicted, the pandemic has cost your frontline. We have lost mentally and physically exhausted colleagues to other roles, burnt out from the multi-faceted challenges that we've faced throughout COVID. On the back of the pandemic, hospitals are bursting. As we’ve all seen on the news, ambulances are still ramping; anxious and unwell patients are enduring long wait times in emergency departments, if they can wait at all. We still care for COVID patients every shift, but we are busier than ever and those of us left are burnt out.
Simply hiring more fresh nurses is not the answer - it's great, sure, but who is going to guide them, lead them and train them? How long will they stay, once they know what it’s really like for us? Our workforce is critically junior, becoming more so with each experienced nurse that runs out of reasons to ‘stick it out’. Australia might be transitioning to a ‘COVID-normal’, but this problem isn’t going away.
One of your very first actions as Premier was to visit Adelaide's hospitals, introducing yourself to and thanking staff. Last week, you spent time in our ambulances, seeing the reality of what our paramedics go through shift to shift, ramping with whoever they can, reshuffling rosters and working overtime to try to help whoever they can’t. Your party arguably won many votes for your promise to change our health system, and you have been very public in your moral support of South Australia's frontline. Now, we need you to invest in retaining the nurses that we have left and motivating burnt out colleagues to come back to the front line.
Earlier this week, our colleagues in NSW were awarded a bonus payment in recognition of their commitment throughout the last two years, and Victorian frontliners were granted what was aptly called a ‘retention bonus’. This is in addition to their nurses receiving a ‘pandemic loading’ for each shift worked since last year - a bit of motivation to keep turning up and doing their best. This is what we need - some incentive to retain nurses and prevent the skill mix at work from becoming any more dangerous. Hospitals should be a safe place for everyone. Right now, our job is harder than it has ever been.
Mr Malinauskas, Mr Picton, please hear us when your predecessors would not. Us - not only frontline nurses, but the clinical and non-clinical colleagues who support us, the >12,000 South Australians who supported our call for help this year, and the patients we serve every day.
(An Emergency nurse, on behalf of all tired nurses)