More than 100 nurses rallied on 15 October in protest at dangerous overcrowding at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The new $2.3 billion hospital was opened in September 2017, and with 800 beds is South Australia’s largest. Yet already there is severe overcrowding.  

Staff report being forced to treat patients in the back of ambulances, and patients in emergency are waiting up to 24 hours for a bed. 

Nurses told Red Flag that this creates a serious risk of death for emergency patients.

Renee, a nurse at the hospital, said she felt frustrated that she “can’t treat patients that need treating”, and that “something has to change soon”.

Other staff expressed anger, telling Red Flag that these conditions “put the lives of the elderly and mental health patients at greatest risk”.

The rally came after a meeting on 8 October of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, at which several hundred Royal Adelaide Hospital nursing staff voted unanimously in favour of taking industrial action to pressure the state government to solve the overcrowding problem.

The minister for Health and Wellbeing responded by committing to an increase of 50 sub-acute beds, of which 20 will be private, as well as 11 additional mental health beds.

This is unlikely to solve the problem. The South Australian branch of the ANMF is vowing to continue the campaign so long as patient safety is deemed to be at risk.