Unpaid work, work intensification and burn out

There is now little doubt that there is a crisis in medical sciences in Victoria.

Between the Department of Health and Human Services’ own Allied Health Research reports and the RMIT University’s report into rostering practices in pathology services, there is little doubt that there are huge shortages of medical scientists across public pathology with growing alarm about shortages in the private pathology sector.

There is little comfort in the research that has been conducted. It consistently points to issues of unsustainably high workloads, injuries, unpaid work, the huge intensification of work and constant growth in the volume and range of testing leading to burn out of MSAV members. Let’s not forget that if we talk about burnout we are in reality talking about injuries.

These issues are not new to us and they’ve been at the centre of our efforts to improve working conditions and eliminate work intensification related injuries in the last public sector enterprise agreement and other private sector agreements. But it is important that we continue to highlight these issues.

Yes it’s frustrating that a government which claims to be progressive continues to ignore this crisis and yes it’s frustrating that media outlets are too focussed on ‘who died’ or ‘will they die’ rather than focusing on the fact that Victoria is on the precipice of world-class healthcare or third-world healthcare. But it’s clear that unless we continue to fight for increases in staff we can only expect to see the crisis worsen to the point that more and more scientists will be injured and clinical services in our hospitals are compromised. Instead of managers actually doing their jobs and properly filling rosters, they continue to deny there are problems, pursue scientists to do unpaid work and complain when the Union pulls them up on their poor management.

I despair that in an environment where pathology services strive to introduce the best and most sophisticated technology, pathology managers adopt the values and attitudes of a 1960s brick factory foreman.

All too often medical scientists are dealing with management structures that under-value the work they do and the contribution they make to the delivery of Victoria’s world-class healthcare. Instead of tackling the issue of chronic under staffing, pathology adopts the daily crisis management approach rather than run an internal case for funding for desperately needed scientists.

With the medical sciences in crisis, growing staff shortages and low graduate numbers, the ability of Victoria’s public and private health sectors to deliver world-class healthcare is being stretched to the limit. And it won’t be too long before our healthcare system breaks because clinical practitioners like medical scientists have been ignored to the detriment of patients and the entire system.

The Union will continue campaigning hard to make sure the Victorian Government immediately addresses the crisis facing medical scientists and the medical sciences in Victoria.

In the meantime please show your support and solidarity with medical scientists at Monash Health. They have commenced a work to rule to protect their health and safety in response to Monash Health’s decision to walk away from its agreement to deal with the extreme under-staffing and workloads in their pathology labs.

Send your messages of support to enquiry[at]msav.org.au or leave them on our Facebook page. You can also show your support by sharing our graphic below on your favourite social media platform.

Paul Elliott


Monash Health Work to Rule-1b

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