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Minister to meet doctors, union over RAH bed-block crisis

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Crisis talks will be held today between Royal Adelaide Hospital emergency doctors, their union and the Health Minister to discuss solutions to ongoing overcrowding pressures.

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The meeting this afternoon comes a day after medicos launched industrial action by wearing protest T-shirts at work highlighting the bed-block problems.

They’ve agreed to postpone other forms of industrial action – including refusing to fill out “unnecessary” paperwork – while negotiations continue.

SA Salaried Medical Officers Association chief industrial officer Bernadette Mulholland yesterday told reporters that ED clinicians at the RAH were now working in “disaster” mode to treat patients in an overwhelmed system.

As revealed by InDaily, the Central Adelaide Local Health Network had attempted to block the doctors wearing the protest T-shirts, but Mulholland said the SA Employment Tribunal had ruled they should be allowed.

“It’s a cry for help,” Mulholland said.

“These are doctors who are trained to provide emergency care, not disaster care.

“At the moment we don’t seem to be working as a system because we are in crisis.

“We can’t continue to flog the staff that we have. They are tired.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas and Health Minister Chris Picton say they are committed to working with the clinicians to find solutions to the crisis.

“We are working closely with doctors to resolve these long-term issues and take on board the clear message they are getting across,” Picton said in a statement yesterday.

“As I have said previously I am not at all concerned by wearing of T-shirts – my concern is working with the doctors to find solutions which we both agree need to be fixed,” he said.

Opposition health spokesperson Ashton Hurn says “it’s quite clear that the Labor Party’s plan to alleviate that pressure on our health system is simply not working”.

However, Picton says “SASMOA has made clear the issue is not the new government, but the significant lack of resolve in fixing this issue over many years”.

Mulholland yesterday said “certainly… the Minister is listening, the Premier is listening”.

She hoped today’s meeting would “try and find a solution, indeed a framework to stop this crisis that’s been ongoing now for many years”.

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