Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
Tasmania’s new Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff has many important tasks ahead of him, but one of his immediate priorities should be to re-establish the position of Statewide Executive Director of Nursing on the Tasmanian Health Service’s Executive Board.
During the Department of Health restructure last year, the position of Statewide Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery position was abolished. At the time the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation raised concerns this would lead to negative staff and patient outcomes.
Since then progress on implementing key elements of the Nurses and Midwives State Service Agreement has slowed or stalled. The ANMF has also highlighted a lack of statewide consistency in key policy areas, such as ‘Nursing Hours per Patient Day’, which is causing tremendous workload and safety issues, and recruiting new staff.
Nurses and midwives are an essential part of our health system, and their important and specific perspective must be at the table when all top-level decisions are made by the Tasmanian Health Service.
The current structure of the THS Executive has shut out these critical voices from governance and decision-making, and their concerns are often dismissed by the Liberal Government.
In a dire example of how this impacts hospital wards, the ANMF were forced to take the issue of minimum safe staffing levels in the Launceston General Hospital’s Emergency Department to the Industrial Commission. Ultimately they have been successful in securing the required additional staffing, but why did they have to go to such lengths on a serious matter of patient safety and fair treatment of staff?
This is not the way a functional health system should work.
If Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff is serious about creating a better health system, he needs to start by reinstating the voices of nurses and midwives on the Executive and implementing safe work policies statewide.