SA Health | Member Update | COVID-19

31 March 2020

The Public Service Association (PSA) and other health unions have been meeting regularly with SA Health to discuss COVID-19 response and procedures for staff. While there has been regular information released by SA Health for employees, the PSA has found that Local Health Networks are varying in their communications with the PSA and members. For example, SALHN has been holding regular union consultation meetings and releasing daily updates to staff; whereas NALHN has only convened a union meeting this week after the PSA consistently raised the lack of consultation and wrote to the Chief Executive Officer about this. NALHN staff communications have also been minimal.
 
As your union we are closely monitoring these unprecedented events and keeping SA Health and each LHN accountable to ensure your jobs are safe and you are supported and safe at this time.
 
The PSA is always here for our members who have questions or concerns about how this situation is being managed.

ALL PUBLIC SECTOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS ARE ESSENTIAL!
The PSA continues to advocate for all salaried healthcare workers about the terminology used in the media and in Government and SA Health/LHN communications.
 
The language often refers to “doctors and nurses” as essential, forgetting that without our salaried health staff, including allied health professionals, health services could not function.
 
Last week the PSA raised this issue again via the Director of Workforce Services at SA Health, who advised that she would raise this with media and communications.
 
Now more than ever, the work that you do is essential and the public need to be aware that this critical work is being done by all health staff rather than just doctors and nurses.
 
PAUSING OF REFORMS/RESTRUCTURES
The PSA called for all job cuts, VSPs and restructures to be paused so that members can concentrate on the critical work that needs to be done. We also believe that it is unfair to expect staff to worry about their positions, jobs and futures while also managing the stress and fear that can be associated with the COVID-19 response.
 
SA Health has paused the progression of the Voluntary Separation Packages across all sites, and NALHN and CALHN have both paused their community mental health (MH) reform. NALHN MH has also paused their Administrative Staff Review.
 
WORKING FROM HOME
Federal and State Governments, as well as SA Health, are now strongly encouraging all staff to work from home if their work is able to be undertaken in a home environment. Members should raise this with their managers if they believe they are able to work from home and wish to do so.
 
The PSA is aware that in some areas this will not be possible due to the nature of work. In this case, the organisation should be implementing strategies that ensure social distancing is maintained, hygiene requirements can be met and personal protective equipment is on hand where appropriate.
 
If members find that they are not being facilitated to work from home even if their role would allow them to do so, or are not being supported to continue to undertake their essential work in a safe manner, members should raise this immediately with their managers and staff Health and Safety Representatives. Please contact the PSA Members’ Rights Hotline or your PSA Organiser if there are continuing issues.
 
PSA HEALTH WORKSITE REPRESENTATIVES (WSRs) FORUM
The next PSA Health WSRs Forum has been postponed due to COVID-19.
 
The PSA is exploring various options for Health WSRs to stay connected with each other and the PSA during this time, which may include a Zoom Video/Teleconference. However, we are also very aware of the rapidly changing environment in which you are all working, and some of you who may need to be at home for your own personal circumstances, or because you are caring for children with school closures commencing next week. We will be in touch soon about this next forum.
 
WE ARE HERE TO HELP AND SUPPORT YOU
Please do not hesitate to contact the PSA Members’ Rights Hotline on 8205 3227 or by email to enquiries@cpsu.asn.au, or contact your PSA Organiser directly with any concerns or industrial issues you may have.
 
Thank you for your support of the community during this time. Remember, it is a very difficult time for you all and now, more than ever, working together and looking after your workmates is the best place to start. Be kind to each other and check on how people are travelling while taking the time to look after your own wellbeing.
 
In these uncertain times, being a union member is important so we have the influence and collective protection to ensure management treats our members fairly and keep them safe. It is also a good idea to join the union in case there is a need for individual support.