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Short lunchtime stoppages at major hospitals

To put a focus on the need to staff health services properly and our request that the State Government guarantee proper breaks both within and between medical officers’ work shifts, SASMOA is organising “Give Us A Break” week. 


“Give Us A Break” week will see short 30-minute lunchtime stop work meetings held outdoors at major hospital sites within each LHN, with SASMOA providing food and drinks for doctors outside the front of hospitals. 


The time and locations of the events will be designed to spotlight for the public the problems doctors often have in taking meal breaks during a shift and the sleep debt and fatigue associated with insufficient breaks between shifts.


  • Royal Adelaide Hospital: 12.30pm - 1pm Tuesday 16 November 2021

  • Flinders Medical Centre: 12.30pm - 1pm Wednesday 17 November 2021

  • Women’s and Children’s Hospital: 12.30pm - 1pm Thursday 18 November 2021 

  • Lyell McEwin Hospital: 12.30pm - 1pm Friday 19 November 2021

These meetings have been deliberately scheduled to maximise possible attendance and minimise disruption to services and patient care. The meetings are also not technically industrial action as they are designed to coincide with meal breaks, so we do not expect any directions to be issued by the Chief Executive of the Department of Health. All doctors should feel free to attend without being concerned about intimidation.


SASMOA has again written to the Premier inviting him to attend one of the lunchtime breaks (see here). The letter reads: 


The major issue the Association is seeking to rectify is fatigue, including the difficulty of being able to take a break. To highlight this, our members will be taking action next week to stop work and take a break – which they are entitled to do – and talk to their colleagues about their shared concerns.



Work breaks are important for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is critical that health services are adequately staffed so that doctors can take breaks and avoid unnecessary fatigue. Everyone understands that addressing fatigue is not only good for doctors but also good for their patients.


As part of the current Enterprise Bargaining negotiations SASMOA members are seeking:

  • Minimum 10 hour breaks between shifts, and

  • Minimum 30 minute uninterrupted meal breaks (to be counted as time worked if they are interrupted with work or not taken at all).


These changes are similar to conditions already enjoyed by doctors working in Victoria and would be a simple and practical step forward in addressing fatigue for doctors in SA.

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