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Issue #1664      November 12, 2014

Hospital staff morale goes south up north

Cairns health workers say hospital standards have declined, staff morale has fallen and the Newman government’s management of the Queensland public health system is “poor to very poor.’’

A damning new survey of more than 500 nurses, doctors, administration staff and health professionals has found the majority believe health service and hospital standards and quality of care levels have fallen considerably since 2012.

The Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) and Together union survey of Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service staff found more than 90 percent of those questioned believed staff morale was on the decline. More than 80 percent rated the government’s performance as poor to very poor while a further 65.5 percent believed the quality of services had rapidly declined in the last two years.

QNU state secretary Beth Mohle said the region’s health standards and staff morale were waning – and the concerted push by employer groups to strip penalty rates for casual weekend workers would only make the situation worse.

“There is growing unrest and deep dissatisfaction among Cairns and Hinterland workers about ongoing staff and budget cuts and the level of care they can provide for patients,’’ Ms Mohle said. 

“These concerns are causing a steep decline in staff morale and its public health services and hospitals – and the public – that will suffer as a result.

“Sadly, in addition, we are seeing a concerted push by employer groups who are lobbying the federal government to cut weekend penalty rates. The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) is currently running a determined campaign to block this push.’’

Together secretary Mr Alex Scott said the survey was damning.

“The Newman government has cut staff numbers and health budgets to a point where staff are routinely forced to work double shifts and perform regular, unpaid overtime,’’ Mr Scott said.

“Health workers in Cairns and the surrounding regions are being forced to do more with less and there’s only so much they can take. The move to reduce penalty rates is a bridge too far.”

The QCU this week unveiled static and mobile billboards to highlight the importance of penalty rates in the region.

The QNU and Together survey findings released include:

  • 91.4% believe staff morale is worse due to the changes to the public health system over the last two years.
  • 85.8% say changes to the public health system over the last two years has had a negative impact on job security.
  • 84.8% of respondents said changes to the public health system over the last two years made it harder to provide quality health services for Queenslanders.
  • 82.4% rate the current government’s performance when it comes to managing Queensland’s public health system as poor to very poor.
  • 65.5% said the quality of services is worse compared to the quality of services they were able to provide in March 2012.

Next article – Australia lags in Ebola response

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