Medical Scientists work to rule at Monash Health as workloads explode

Medical scientists working at Monash Health are so over-worked and burnt out that they hold grave fears for their own health and well-being and the safety of patients. Every day Monash Health breaches the Enterprise Agreement covering medical scientists by failing to backfill vacant positions and by refusing to employ enough scientists to prepare safe rosters.

Monash Health is refusing to employ an additional 28 new scientists, a number agreed by the health service following a major review of staffing levels and workloads in its pathology services. Monash Health has reneged on this agreement, which was reached through Fair Work Commission proceedings.

Instead of employing more scientists as agreed, Monash Health has walked away from its recent commitment to resolve significant OH&S issues and patient safety concerns.

Medical scientists feel they have been left with no choice other than work to rule to manage their workloads to a safe level. This will quickly cause significant disruptions to every clinical service provided through Monash Health.

It is not good enough for Monash Health to jointly review workloads and staffing levels, agree that there is a critical need for a significant number of additional scientists and then without any explanation walk away from its commitment to employ the scientists. This is an example of negligent management that this State Government must act on.

The Union has been warning Monash Health of the crisis facing their medical scientists and instead of employing more scientists Monash Health continues to expect scientists to do more work.

By Monash Health’s data, testing levels have increased by on average around 40% and in some areas doubled, and at the same time the numbers of scientists have not increased.

Monash Health knowingly breaches our enterprise agreement every day to the detriment of the health and well-being of their medical scientists and to the detriment of patient safety. Under the provisions of the Fair Work Act a breach of the Enterprise Agreement is a civil offence.

Unless Monash Health employs at least 28 more scientists, we will be faced with the escalating risk of patients being harmed because scientists are over worked, exhausted and burnt out. This is a risk that Monash Health acknowledged in late 2018.

Starting last week on 14 February, medical scientists commenced a work to rule to protect their health and safety. This will cause significant disruption to accident and emergency, paediatrics, maternity, oncology, surgeries – essentially every single clinical service at Monash Health will be affected.

The Union has been researching this trend of increasing workloads, increasing unpaid work and increasing stress and health problems for years. And for years the Union has been calling out this crisis for it only to fall upon deaf ears of Monash Health and the state’s public health chiefs.

The Union has to ask – will it take the deaths of patients or seriously injured scientists for Monash Health and the Andrews Labor Government to finally do something about the severe lack of scientists in pathology services?

Monash Health must end its damaging culture, which they fostered, that expects more unpaid work from fewer scientists.

The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria is calling on Monash Health and the Andrews Labor Government to immediately address this crisis by increasing medical scientists’ numbers to ease the extreme workloads and ensure patient safety.

Send your Support
Please send your messages of support and solidarity to members at Monash Health who are taking a stand against the extreme under-staffing and workloads which are forcing our members to work to rule.

Send your messages of support to enquiry[at]

Paul Elliott

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