The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:48): My question is directed to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Will the minister update the council on the management of South Australian hospitals?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:49): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in the South Australian public health system. Yesterday, I advised this council that the threat by the ANMF to cancel elective surgery tomorrow was not in accord with the orders of the industrial tribunal. I assured South Australians that there would be no cancellations of elective surgery.
Today's announcement by the ANMF that they have abandoned their threat to disrupt elective surgery fully vindicates the government's consistent position. This is a win for patient safety. This is a win for the South Australian community. This is an embarrassing back down by the nurses' union. I am pleased that the union has finally withdrawn its threat to patient safety. I just hope that it will be the end of their political games.
The union should never have threatened patient safety for political purposes. The union should never have asked nurses to stop caring for their patients. I want to thank the Chief Nurse and the South Australia Health nurse leadership, who took the ANMF to the tribunal to protect the patients of South Australia. The nurses' union's bans have been an unhelpful distraction, but the government has continued to have a laser like focus on improving health care for all South Australians. I want to assure the nurses, paramedics and doctors in our hospitals that the government is determined to work with them to ease the pressure in our hospitals at times of peak demand. The government strategy to provide immediate relief is clear. Two weeks ago, we announced that we would activate 30 beds in country hospitals. Last week, we announced that we had secured 20 beds in the private system. Last Friday, we announced activating 11 mental health beds. I have continued to work through medium and long-term strategies with clinicians, unions and stakeholders. We will clean up Labor's mess. It won't happen overnight, but we will work through the changes in a methodical and consultative manner to improve health care in this state.
I would remind honourable members of the behaviour of the opposition, including the Hon. Ian Hunter today. Faced with a union campaign threatening patient safety, they sowed doubt that patients would get the care they need. Faced with the union's political campaign they actively supported patients being used as political pawns. Faced with a choice between the union or the people of South Australia, Labor backed the union.