Nurse and midwife survey reveals unsafe conditions at Hervey Bay Hospital 

Published: 8 October 2021

Almost 80 per cent of nurses and midwives recently surveyed at Hervey Bay Hospital do not believe the facility is safe for patients or staff.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Assistant Secretary Kate Veach said the QNMU survey found staff at the facility had very real concerns regarding the wellbeing of patients and their colleagues. The findings come amid unprecedented demand on Queensland’s health system.

“The QNMU survey found 78 per cent of respondents do not believe Hervey Bay Hospital is safe for patients or staff,’’ Ms Veach said.

“The findings also revealed 87 per cent of those surveyed weren’t confident the facility would cope if a COVID-19 outbreak occurred in the area. These results are extremely distressing.’’

Ms Veach said in addition, 63 per cent of staff surveyed did not believe their employer would listen if staff identified a solution to improve health services.
She said the Hervey Bay survey was one of a series being carried out in Queensland Health (QH) hospitals state-wide.

The QNMU is part of the Health Needs Urgent Care campaign currently being rolled out throughout Queensland to address unsafe workloads and staff levels in public hospitals. The campaign brings together the QNMU, Together Union, United Workers Union (UWU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) in the first joint health union effort since former Premier Campbell Newman sacked thousands of QH workers.

“Our members have told us workloads are unsafe and there aren’t enough clinical or support staff to safely care for patients,’’ Ms Veach said.

“In Hervey Bay, the increase in presentations has sky-rocketed to a point no one saw coming.

“Staff are burning out. Ambulances are being ramped, patients are being cared for in corridors and these extreme conditions are being treated as though they’re the norm. Staff aren’t getting breaks, workloads are unsustainable and staff feel forgotten. Constantly being exposed to this level of danger impacts patient care and the psychological safety of staff.
“This is why we’ve launched the Health Needs Urgent Care campaign. This campaign aims to convince politicians and decision-makers to listen to health professionals. We ask them to work with us on real solutions for these issues.’’
The QNMU is urging the Queensland and Federal governments to:
  • Invest in the health system by committing to working with us on a joint, immediate solution.
  • Work with us 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.

“Health workers in Hervey Bay are seeking real change to keep Queenslanders safe,” Ms Veach said.

“We know our health system. We work in it 24/7. We also have the solutions to fix it, but decision-makers and politicians need to listen to us, trust us, and value our work.

“It’s not okay for the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to say “it’s the state’s responsibility” because health funding is a federal issue. It’s also not okay that the state government has failed to take action when the wellbeing of Queenslanders and health workers is at stake.” 

More staff meetings and events are being planned state-wide to highlight and raise awareness of workplace concerns. For more information click here.  

Media contact: Lou Robson - 0422 550 278