Nurses ‘stood down without pay’ amid pandemic

A Union claims it has received reports private healthcare facilities are standing staff down without pay or forcing staff to take annual leave in order for them to continue to receive pay during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union (QNMU) Secretary Beth Mohle said "as a result of the actions of these private operators, and in response to these reports from QNMU members, the QNMU is working with Queensland Health to see if any staff who seek alternative employment can be fast tracked into suitable positions in Queensland's public hospitals and health services".


Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)
Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)

"The services of valuable nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff are required at this time to assist Queenslanders during the COVID-19 pandemic," Ms Mohle said.

UnitingCare Queensland Hospitals Group Executive and Chair of UnitingCare's COVID-19 Management Team Michael Krieg said approximately 5000 Queenslanders were employed across the group's four private hospitals including The Wesley Hospital, St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital, St Stephen's Hospital in Hervey Bay, and Buderim Private Hospital on the Sunshine Coast.


Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD


Mr Krieg said some "Private Hospital staff are taking leave in line with usual practices, but not due to COVID-19".

"In our negotiations with the Queensland Government, which are ongoing, we have been discussing the possibility of Queensland Health co-opting a proportion of our Private Hospitals staff into Queensland Health Hospitals, and we will do whatever we can to support this and the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders through the COVID-19 crisis," he said.

The reports come as news 39 final-year nurses at the University of Queensland will be fast-tracked to start at Princess Alexandra Hospital on April 27.


Ms Mohle said the QNMU understood a range of industries were experiencing change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that included the impact of private hospital elective surgery shutdowns on staff retention.

She said at this stage there were no reports of concerns about personal protective equipment availability in private hospitals but the QNMU would "escalate immediately if any members report unsafe PPE practices in private hospitals".

Originally published as Nurses 'stood down without pay' amid pandemic