15 July 2022

Territory records 1208 new COVID-19 infections as 'burnt-out' nurses call for recognition payments

| Lottie Twyford
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Nurses and midwives are preparing to rally this afternoon. They say recognition should be more than a ‘thanks’. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Territory has recorded 1208 (709 PCR and 499 RAT) new COVID-19 infections in the 24 hours to 8 pm last night as nurses prepare to rally this afternoon to protest against the government’s decision not to award them recognition payments.

In a statement, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) ACT branch said its members wanted to show the government that recognising and respecting nurses must be more than a ‘thanks’ after two-and-a-half years of a pandemic that was exacerbating existing staff shortages.

Earlier this week, the ACT Government knocked back requests from the union for one-off COVID-19 recognition payments for nurses and midwives. The proposal was inspired by similar schemes being rolled out in NSW and Victoria.

Instead of the payments, the government told the union it would focus on longer-term wage increases as part of enterprise bargaining agreements.

In a statement, ANMF ACT branch secretary Matthew Daniel said nurses were fed up with the lack of recognition they received and were exhausted and burnt out.

The union pointed to a recent workplace survey which found 74 per cent of respondents had considered leaving their jobs in the last 12 months alone due to increased workloads and a lack of workplace safety.

The union will now launch a campaign demanding the ACT Government develop, invest in, and facilitate a clear and substantial recovery plan for nursing and midwifery workers, with a focus on their health and wellbeing.

Dave Peffer

Canberra Health Services boss Dave Peffer said the hospital is under extreme pressure, but the system will stand up to the test. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

It comes as pressure on the hospital and its staff is only expected to grow in line with increasing COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

Health authorities have warned COVID-19 cases could triple to around 3000 a day by the end of the month.

Canberra Health Services CEO Dave Peffer said the health system, which is already under “increasing strain”, would survive this winter and the expected spike in cases, but it would come at a price to workers and an already burnt-out workforce.

The pandemic and other winter illnesses are wreaking havoc on Mr Peffer’s available workforce, with as many as one-quarter of staff in one speciality away at any one time.

That, in turn, is leading to available staff being put under increasing pressure and forcing the closure or reduction of some health services.

READ ALSO ICU director alleges health service tried to silence safety concerns at Canberra Hospital

Hospitalisations have once again decreased in the ACT. There are now 135 patients in Canberra hospitals with the virus. Of these, four are in ICU and three require ventilation.

There are now 7192 (3963 PCR and 3229 RAT) known active infections in the Territory.

A total of 175,923 (104,820 PCR and 71,103 RAT) COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The double-dose vaccination rate for the ACT’s five-plus population remains 97.4 per cent and 77.6 per cent of residents aged 16 and older have received a booster.

Of ACT residents aged five to 11, 69.5 per cent have received two doses of vaccine.

READ ALSO ACT abortion access, cost to be investigated following Roe v Wade

Interstate, NSW has reported 14 deaths overnight and 12,228 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 2027 people in hospital with the virus and 60 people in ICUs around the state.

Victoria has reported 17 deaths overnight and 10,584 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 749 people hospitalised with the virus and 35 patients are in the state’s intensive care units.

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With due respect to every Nurse (and all essential workers), would “recognition payments” stop / prevent burn-out?

Albo has agreed to a demands from State Premiers to call a National Cabinet meeting due to rising Covid numbers, but none of these Premiers are prepared to bring back mask mandates despite advice from medical experts. They’re not prepared to follow advice of medicinal experts and yet they turn to Albo for help and leadership.

Albo is in the news today for saying that Casuals can work from home. Clearly, he has no idea the types of industries where casuals are employed !

The NSW Premier is going so far as to even suggest that we remove isolation restrictions when people test positive!

The only thing that will stop “burnout” is a reduction in Covid infection numbers. Recognition payments won’t reduce stress or workload.

So over to you Albo and State Premiers. Maybe listening to medical experts, isn’t such a bad option because frankly you lot have no idea.

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