Despite the world seemingly having moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, we know this is far from the truth.
We also know that workloads continue increasing.
An unspoken issue facing Victoria’s healthcare system is the continued strain its under because of the impact of another surge in COVID cases. Many will be expecting a surge of people presenting with colds and flu as the colder months arrive alongside the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The entire sector continues to operate under enormous pressure. This is nothing new but the degree of the pressure keeps building.
The Union has long been advocating the need to significantly increase our disciplines’ workforces before COVID-19 hit the world. Workloads and understaffing were significant issues well before COVID-19. It’s been a key issue the Union has been advocating and lobbying around for twenty plus years.
Workloads and understaffing pressures are not just limited to one part of the health sector, it’s severely impacting all aspects of the health sector, whether public, community or private.
It’s impacting the medical scientific workforce, psychologists, pharmacists, dietitians, clinical perfusionists and audiologists. And beyond our disciplines we know it’s impacting the aged care sector and disability care and support.
With such a confluence of issues, there will be a strong temptation to work through meal and rest breaks or come in early and stay after the shift ends. Members may even be tempted to take up additional shifts.
We know how committed and dedicated you are to delivering your very best each shift to ensure patients get the best care that can be delivered, but it’s important to remember that regularly working extra hours is a very significant cause of workload stress and injury.
The Union’s concern is not just that members won’t be remunerated for their commitment and dedication, it also puts your mental and physical health and well-being at risk.
We know there is a lot of stress and anxiety with the enormous workloads while dealing with an on-going pandemic, which is now largely ignored by decision makers and the media.
Working under such conditions has a very real impact on your physical and mental health and well-being.
There is a growing (and already extensive) amount of research into the impacts of high workloads and unpaid work contributing to the poor health and well-being of workers in healthcare. It can lead to significant mental health problems as well as range of physical ailments which left untreated can become debilitating.
We’re not advocating that you don’t put in your best effort to care for patients, however what we are advocating is, is that you put your health first in order to be able to properly care for patients.
If you’re stressed with workloads or fatigued from working additional unpaid time, it has a direct impact on your ability to perform your work to your best ability.
These are very real occupational health and safety issues. It’s not just about the physical environment you work in but also the nature of the work you do, the huge workloads and the level of understaffing.
While we would love to have a magic wand to make these issues disappear, the reality is that, in the first instance, it is up to you to ensure your physical and mental health and well-being is a priority. That means taking your meal and rest breaks and making sure that you leave on time when your shift ends.
If you’re experiencing excessive workloads or if there are on-going vacancies in your work group or positions not being backfilled, it is essential you contact the Union to report these issues.
By reporting them, it gives us an opportunity to take these matters up with your employers through avenues like the new Workplace Implementation and Compliance Committees.
We’re interested in working through these issues with your employers so that you can keep performing at your best and delivering the world-class healthcare Victorians deserve.
Afterall, it is your right to work in a safe environment, both physically and mentally safe.