Alarming figures reveal extent of healthcare workers hours

Jun 14, 2021 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

Alarming figures have revealed the true extent of how frontline healthcare staff are being overworked causing concern for the impact on the care and safety of patients.

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said questions asked in parliament and analysis by Tjorn Sibma MLC have exposed how staff are not taking their leave entitlement.

We know that by taking annual leave, workers can reduce stress and increase their happiness in-turn boosting their health and wellbeing while reducing burn out, which was officially recognised by the World Health Organisation as a workplace issue in 2019.

“The number of healthcare workers with greater than eight weeks of outstanding leave, or the equivalent of two years of annual leave, has grown by more than 1,200 people to 11,810 in just six months which is almost one third of our health workforce, Ms Mettam said.

“We know our healthcare workers are already carrying an increased workload, with staff being asked to work multiple shifts to fill staff shortages to keep our public health system working.

“Not taking leave entitlements only compounds the issue and is a recipe for disaster. Research has shown that  organisations who have staff with excessive leave suffer from lower morale, decreased productivity, a higher turnover of staff and excessive leave absences all of which will contribute to negative patient outcomes.

“Leave is a basic entitlement and one that everyone needs to take to re-charge their batteries and in particular our healthcare workers who dedicate their working days to keeping us safe.

“Minister Cook needs to demonstrate a clear, well defined workforce plan to properly resource and staff our public health system that provides solutions now, not in years.

“It is quite simply not good enough and the Minister needs to take responsibility and fix this spiralling health crisis, not keep deflecting blame.

“This is yet another example of why Western Australia needs a dedicated Health Minister, not a distracted part-time Minister.