Local health staff call for urgent action to fix unsafe Cairns Hospital  

Published: 30 September 2021 

Cairns public health workers are calling for urgent action from the state and federal governments to keep Queenslanders safe amid unprecedented demand on health services and beds. 

A recent survey of health workers at Cairns Hospital revealed 70% of respondents felt their facility was unsafe for patients and staff, and 87% said they were not confident their facility would cope if a COVID-19 outbreak occurred in their area.

Further, 88% of survey respondents said they were unsure or did not think their employer would listen if they identified a solution to improve health services.

This is why exhausted and concerned health workers are joining together to demand real action through our Health needs urgent care campaign,   

Health unions representing nurses and midwives, doctors, allied health professionals, paramedics and ambulance officers, operations staff, building, engineering and maintenance staff, administration workers and more are standing up and calling for immediate and long-term solutions. 

Unions are urging the Federal and State Governments to: 
  • Invest in the health system by committing to working with health workers on a joint, immediate solution 
  • Work with health workers to identify long term solutions for a sustainable health system and economy 
  • Commit to smarter funding that is in the best interests of patient care and staff safety
  • Commit to keeping our health system in public hands, not privatising services or beds. 

Cairns health staff have the solutions to help fix the problems facing Cairns Hospital and Health Service – we know our health system and the needs of our patients.

But we need our decision-makers and politicians to urgently listen to us and work with us to make our health system sustainable.

Our health system needs urgent care so health workers can continue to provide safe, quality care for Cairns residents. 

As part of our campaign, a health worker meeting will be held today (Thursday 30 October) at midday outside Cairns Hospital’s emergency department (near the tree of knowledge). The Cairns community and Cairns health staff are invited to join as we stand up and demand real action. 

Quotes attributable to health union leaders: 

Kate Veach, Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (Assistant Secretary): 
“Nurses, midwives and health care staff see firsthand the impact of unprecedented demand on our health services and beds. Invaluable staff are burning out trying to provide quality care under extreme conditions. Our governments need to urgently address these issues so we can continue to provide the quality care Cairns residents deserve.”

For further media comment, please contact Richard Lenarduzzi on 0411 254 390. 

Heather Hayes, Together Union (Acting Assistant Secretary): 
“At the moment, there simply aren’t enough staff to safely care for our Cairns residents. Our Emergency Department is overrun, hospitals are running out of beds, and workloads are unsustainable. It’s vital that our politicians value our work, listen to what health staff have to say and work with us on solutions so our patients don’t suffer unnecessarily due to understaffing and underfunding.”

For further media comment, please contact Heather Hayes on 0418 302 331 or Sandy Donald on 0418 184 712.

Trish Berrill, United Workers Union (Organiser): 
“Our health system needs urgent investment and urgent care right now. We’re calling on the Federal and State governments to commit to actions that are in the best interests of patient care and staff safety.” 

For further media comment, please contact Fiona Scalon on 0419 663 173.

Rob Hill, Electrical Trades Union (Organiser): 
“Privatising beds and services isn’t a solution to achieving a sustainable public health system. There are other solutions to address the impacts of the unprecedented demand – governments just need to listen to workers.”

For further media comment, please contact Rob Hill on 0430 072 049.