The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) says it has been overwhelmed with feedback from nurses nationally expressing their fears and sharing their levels of exhaustion and stress in response to the current pandemic.
“ACN is asking the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and all who employ nurses, our biggest healthcare workforce, to think about what they can do to protect and support nurses,” Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, Chief Executive Officer of ACN, said in a statement.
“I’m hearing directly from nurses that they are working double-shifts without a break because there aren’t enough nurses.
“I’ve heard today from one nurse who has worked 12 days straight without a break.
“Another ED nurse told me that even though they are used to verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis, it is escalating into a perfect storm.
“There are nurses working alone trying to care for and protect their aged care residents.
“Other nurses are going to work while supporting family members at home with COVID or who are immunosuppressed or vulnerable.
“I’ve even heard from nurses who have COVID and are still being asked to go to work.”
Ward said nurses are at breaking point and feel unheard and unsupported.
“What are Government’s doing to help our biggest national healthcare profession? she asked.
“What happens in the coming weeks when we know the pandemic is going to get worse, not better?
“What’s the plan to support nurses because they need to hear about it now.”
The ACN has also called for the escalating verbal and physical abuse being experienced by nurses to be addressed by government at all levels, and for the mental health of nurses in all sectors – primary care, hospitals and EDs, aged care and mental health – to be prioritised in order to ensure there is a healthy and supported nursing workforce to care for all Australians in the months ahead.