McGowan Government’s comprehensive failure to support our nurses puts WA patients’ lives at risk

Jul 13, 2022 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

McGowan Government’s comprehensive failure to support our nurses puts WA patients’ lives at risk

New figures released by the Australian Nurses Federation point to a comprehensive failure to support the WA nursing workforce.

“These results highlight the McGowan Government have fallen in every measurement – highlighting a comprehensive failure to support our nurses, midwives and ultimately patients,” said Shadow for Health Libby Mettam.

“At a time when the health system is on its knees with record levels of ambulance ramping, and hospitals are diverting patients away due to a lack of capacity it is extraordinary the McGowan Government refuse to properly invest and attract this workforce.

“The interstate wages comparison highlights how WA nurses and midwives have gone from being the highest paid in Australia to the second lowest paid, only ahead of Tasmania, adding to issues around low morale across this workforce.

“The McGowan Government need to come to the table and better incentivise our health workers to ensure they don’t continue to leave the profession.

“The latest survey from the Australian Nurses Federation highlights just how far the investment and support for the health workforce has fallen since the McGowan Government have come to power.

“The McGowan Governments failure to prioritise health is putting WA patients’ lives at risk.

“This survey not only highlights that they have gone from being the most highly valued in the country to one of the most undervalued by the McGowan Government, despite a health crisis and a significant surplus.

This survey of nurses shows we have gone backwards when it comes to staff shortages, skill mix and concerns regarding safety, with comparisons made between survey results between 2016 and 2022 being a damning reflection on the McGowan Government’s performance in health.

30% of surveyed recipients stated there were staff shortages in their area in 2016 compared to 49% in 2022.

“It’s also shocking to see that 40% of nurses stated there were times when patient safety was put at risk, a figure which was, by comparison just less than 25% in 2016 which is a deeply concerning trend.

“This should ring alarm bells for the McGowan Government, but unfortunately, they continue to bury their head in the sand while our health system goes from crisis to crisis.

“It is also disappointing that one of the first decisions of the new Minister for Health was to suspend the “Your Voice in Health Survey” because the Minister did not like the feedback.

“Last November the Your Voice in Health Survey for the Child and Adolescent Health Service* revealed that 43% of workers felt valued for the work that they do, which trailed the rest of the Australian public health sector by 16%.

This survey also discovered just 36% of health workers felt it was safe to speak up and challenge the way things are done in the organisation, highlighting real concerns of low staff morale across the health sector.