Media release

Hospitals must be safer for staff, patients

Doctors and nurses should not be getting sick at work, assaulted or threatened with violence, or overworked to the point of exhaustion in our hospitals. AMA Queensland has laid out an action plan for hospitals in its Budget Submission 2024-25.

Queensland’s public hospitals must be made safer for staff and patients by addressing workforce shortages, excessive workloads and inadequate resources, and boosting security after hours and overnight.

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 calls for broader workforce incentives to attract and retain the medical workforce and support for primary care and general practice to keep people out of hospital in the first place.

“Today is World Safety and Health at Work Day, aimed at promoting safe, healthy and decent workplaces,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“Doctors and nurses should not be getting sick at work, assaulted or threatened with violence, or overworked to the point of exhaustion.

“Doctors remain extremely concerned about the ramifications of speaking up about issues affecting patient safety or staff wellbeing, including bullying and harassment.

“The recently-announced independent review into hospital sexual assault policies and procedures is a long-overdue first step – now we need the same for occupational violence.

“The Queensland Government must take urgent action to protect our hardworking healthcare workforce and attract and retain more staff.

“Workforce is the No.1 priority for AMA Queensland leading up to this year’s state election, and we will be looking carefully at the policies and promises from all political parties as October approaches.”

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 finds:

  • excessive workloads and inadequate resourcing are leading to staff burnout
  • recent medical graduates and overseas-trained doctors are quitting hospital jobs or leaving medicine altogether due to insufficient training places and career pathways
  • doctors are not adequately consulted or involved in critical healthcare decisions made by Queensland Health or Hospital and Health Services (HHSs)
  • a lack of consistent infection prevention and control measures is leading to staff and patients contracting COVID and other respiratory diseases in hospitals
  • hospitals are being built or upgraded without any thought for the basic facilities doctors need to do their jobs, like offices, workstations, IT systems and transport.

“We have seen some positive movements from the Queensland Government, including financial incentives for interstate and international doctors and other healthcare workers to relocate to regional areas, and financial support for GPs to upskill in obstetrics and anaesthetics,” Dr Boulton said.

“But we must find ways to retain those new staff and look after the healthcare workers who are already there.

“These doctors must be supported to maintain their skills or train in crucial fields such as obstetrics, anaesthetics, paediatrics, general practice and mental health and not just be relied on for emergency medicine.

“Queensland Health must provide clear pathways for career development across all specialties, based on accurate projections about the number of doctors needed and the availability of college training places.

“We must tackle the housing crisis so healthcare workers who move to regional, rural and remote areas can find high-quality, safe and affordable accommodation for themselves and their families.

“We need more medical students and more training placements.

“We must look after our healthcare workforce so they can continue to look after us.”

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 can be read here.

AMA Queensland is calling for:

  • Broader workforce incentives to attract and retain the medical workforce in our regional, rural and remote communities, particularly First Nations doctors
  • Enough doctors and nurses to allow safe supervision of patient care
  • Sustainable workloads for medical staff
  • Queensland Health to engage with the Medical Board, colleges and universities to develop and implement career development pathways
  • More training places for graduates and more medical student places at universities
  • Hospital builds or upgrades to include basic facilities for staff to work effectively
  • Queensland Health to implement all recommendations arising from the Wilson Review regarding the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010.

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