Adelaide hospital workers to begin strike action over job conditions

Adelaide's beleaguered health system will face a series of strikes over the next few days as more than 200 allied health professionals take part in industrial action.

Staff, including radiographers, heart-lung machine operators and cardiac investigation officers from four hospitals across the metropolitan area will take part in the first strike from 4pm (ACDT) today.

They include workers from Flinders Medical Centre, the Royal Adelaide, the Queen Elizabeth and Lyell McEwin hospitals.

Health Services Union Secretary Jorge Navas said workers were asking for fairer on-call provisions because many were not getting proper breaks before starting their regular shifts.

He said they were suffering unreasonable workloads and staff shortages.

"We are asking the Government to introduce flexible working practices that allow our members to have a reasonable working life and working environment," Mr Navas said.

"They would therefore be far more productive when they are providing the services to the community."

Mr Navas said health professionals from other hospitals would also stop work over the next few days, but the strike action would have a minimal impact on patients because workers would "share the load" and take action from "different parts at different hospitals at different times".

Adelaide hospitals pushed beyond capacity

Adelaide's metropolitan emergency departments have been pushed to the brink this year with consistent overcrowding.

It has led to a reliance on ramping - when patients are treated outside emergency departments in parked ambulances.

The State Government last month announced the opening of 12 new mental health beds to help ease the situation.

It included eight beds at Glenside Hospital and another four at Lyell McEwin.

But the Salaried Medical Officers Association has criticised the Government for not working hard enough to open the beds.

It said the new beds could not be opened because the recruitment of extra psychiatrists had not yet been completed.

"We know of psychiatrists who could go into those positions and take up the workload that's required to open up those beds with very simple reorganisation, so we feel that they just haven't tried or looked hard enough," the association's Doctor David Pope said.

SA Health is reportedly paying up to $1,400 a day for two mental health beds at the Fullarton Private Hospital.

The department said it was a temporary measure until it could open the new beds.