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Health unions meet with Premier over 'relentless' COVID pressure

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Three peak health unions will meet with the Premier and Health Minister this morning to discuss South Australia’s healthcare system and its ability to cope with the ongoing pandemic.

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The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation SA branch, the South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association and the Ambulance Employees Association of SA will discuss their concerns with Premier Steven Marshall and Health Minister Stephen Wade in an online meeting starting at 10am.

The unions – representing 25,000 nurses, doctors and paramedics – wrote to the Premier on Friday seeking an urgent meeting.

“The pressure on the health system is relentless and has caused ramping, overcrowding, delayed and missed care,” their letter states.

“Health professionals have and continue to work short staffed, double shifts and under extreme pressure and duress. Ultimately, this results in poorer service and poorer health outcomes for the community for whom our member’s care.

“As Premier, it was you and your Government’s decision to reopen the borders.”

The unions said as case number rise, their members are experiencing issues including unprecedented ambulance delays of up to seven hours for emergency cases; staff shortages requiring others to work up to 18 hours a day; lack of personal protective equipment; overflowing hazardous waste bins and lack of breaks.

It comes as the Police Commissioner said that about 300 police officers and support staff are out of action each day either with COVID or isolating as a close contact.

Grant Stevens told reporters that as of yesterday, 129 SA Police officers had tested positive and were in quarantine, and another 180 officers and staff were isolating as close contacts.

“We’re talking around 300 staff per day are absent from the workforce because of COVID,” Stevens said.

“At this point in time we are able to manage that.

“It does put some stresses on us in terms of our operational capability but not to the extent that it impacts on the service we are providing.”

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