Health system at breaking point with COVID yet to strike  

8 October 2021

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) is launching a series of television advertisements this Sunday calling on the State Government to address the chronic lack of capacity in our health system.

More than 1,100 people have already, through the ANMF (SA Branch)’s Action for Health campaign website, sent messages to state MPs including Premier Steven Marshall, Health Minister Stephen Wade and the Opposition, urging them to fix our ailing and overwhelmed health sector.

“South Australia’s health system is at breaking point. If it was a patient it would be in need of urgent and intensive care,’’ said ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM, pictured speaking with media today.

“This is at a time when South Australia is effectively COVID free compared to the nightmarish scenario interstate. How on earth can we expect our hospitals to cope when lockdowns interstate are lifted and borders re-opened, resulting in a probable surge in COVID cases among those unvaccinated?’’

The sad facts:

  • An average of 91 people are waiting in emergency departments daily for a bed, sometimes for more than 24 hours. Twice this year the number waiting soared to a record 139.
  • Emergency departments are over-crowded more than 65 per cent of the time, sometimes more than double their capacity, creating the potential for delayed or missed care.
  • Fatigue and burnout levels among South Australia’s nurses and midwives are higher than they have ever been.
  • Over half (56.1%) of the more than 3,000 nurses and midwives surveyed by the ANMF (SA Branch) had intentions to leave sometime within the next five years, leaving the health system facing a catastrophic shortfall.
  • Each year, for many years, only approximately 600 of the more than 1,300 graduating nurses and midwives in South Australia are offered graduate places with SA Health.
  • This is the despite the fact local health networks don’t even have the staff numbers to fill shifts and also at a time when SA Health, inexplicably, is offering voluntary separation packages to an already under-staffed workforce.
  • We are seeing huge numbers of mental health patients jammed in emergency departments which are simply not equipped to deal with their needs.
  • Ambulance ramping is through the roof.
  • Country emergency departments have been left without a doctor or paramedic staffing.

The ANMF (SA Branch) is imploring members of the community to go online at and add their name to our message to state MPs calling for urgent action, including commitment to a strong and capable workforce.

“The very least a community can expect from government is commitment to keep them safe, particularly given the uncertainty created by the global pandemic and the very real concerns expressed by medical experts and advocates across the board,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“To continually fail to heed their warnings is to invite disaster on to our doorstep.’’

Please view the TV commercials on the websites below: