Up in arms: Nurses out of patience with Wesley Hospital conditions

A private Brisbane hospital is being accused of risking the safety of patients by taking advantage of regulations more relaxed than those applied in the public health system, prompting angry nurses to demand better pay.

Nov 24, 2022, updated Nov 24, 2022
Nurses are battling Brisbane's Wesley Hospital for better pay and conditions.

Nurses are battling Brisbane's Wesley Hospital for better pay and conditions.

Nurses at the Wesley Hospital in the inner-city suburb of Auchenflower will rally on Thursday demanding better pay and conditions to protect health workers and patients from conditions they have described as unsafe.

The highly public agitation is considered rare among private hospital health staff, reflecting the level of frustration nurses at the hospital feel following five weeks of bargaining with their employer, UnitingCare Health (UCH), according to Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) secretary Beth Mohle.

“They are deeply concerned about understaffing, unsafe workloads and the safety of their patients and colleagues,” Mohle said.

“However, UnitingCare Health have refused to consider improved safety measures and other conditions.”

Mohle said UCH, which had been forced to the bargaining table after a petition to the Fair Work Commission, had refused to consider nurse-to-patient ratios, the provision of cost-of-living adjustments, improved pandemic and disaster leave, and matching pay levels available to Queensland Health nurses employed in the public system.

She said private UCH patients were paying for quality care, yet conditions at the Wesley and other UCH facilities were not as regulated as those at Queensland Health public hospitals nearby such as the Royal Brisbane or PA.

The Palaszczuk Government made nurse-to-patient ratios law in 2016, mandating the number of patients that can safely be allocated to a single registered nurse (RN).

“In the first year alone, nurse-to-patient ratios at Queensland Health facilities saved 145 lives and up to $81 million,” Mohle said.

Currently ratios do not exist in private hospitals, which are regulated by the federal government.

InQueensland has lodged questions with UCH and the QNMU for details on how many patients are allocated to nurses at the Wesley Hospital.

UCH also owns and operates St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital at Spring Hill in Brisbane, ​Buderim Private Hospital on the Sunshine Coast and St Stephen’s Hospital in Hervey Bay.

Its website states that this year it will have admitted just under 125,000 Queenslanders and performed more than 88,000 surgical procedures.

UCH also runs the medical care and support service Blue Care.

The Wesley Hospital recently announced that it would open Queensland’s first long-Covid clinic at its Auchenflower complex, although InQueensland understands that nursing staff will not be connected to the clinic as it offers out-patient services from specialists and allied health professionals.

Comment was sought from UCH, who issued this written statement:

“UnitingCare Health employees may choose to participate in union-led activities.

“We expect minimal disruption and will focus on maintaining the highest level of care and safety for our patients.

“UnitingCare Health greatly values our nurses and midwives and thanks them for their outstanding contribution in furthering the mission of the organisation.”


Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy