Junior health staff performing ‘high-level tasks’ without training, says union

by L&D04 Apr 2016
Patients in Victoria are being put at risk due to the overwhelming number of junior health staff and the lack of resources to train them, according to the Allied Health Professionals Association (AHPA).

The AHPA is currently in the process of enterprise bargaining negotiations with the Victorian Government, and claims that interns and students are performing "high-level clinical tasks" such as x-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, despite being undertrained.

Indeed, patients are commonly being left to the care of interns “because there is not enough money in the system to support properly qualified staff and appropriate supervision" said the union.

"The Andrews Government is using students and interns as 'lackeys' to cover for its failure to properly resource Victorian hospitals with health professionals."

Furthermore, the pressure on clinicians to be educators has reached “breaking point”, according to the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association secretary Craig McGregor. 

He said students and junior members of staff no longer get the sort of education they need which is causing the standards of care to fall.

McGregor added that based on the current university enrolments, the number of students and interns in public hospital radiography services would almost double from 97 in 2016 to 197 in 2018.

The Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said she was aware of issues and that it was up to hospitals to ensure trained professionals were assisting the patients.

"We are currently negotiating with health professionals in the context of the [enterprise bargaining agreement] about these issues," she was quoted as saying by the ABC.

"It's something we're committed to looking at.

"Whether or not we're talking about allied health staff or nursing staff or appropriate supervision for clinical staff, it's my expectation that the right people are doing the right roles, that they're properly supported and properly supervised."