AHS cuts the heart out of nursing

Stephen Simpson, Nurse Manager at Inverell District Hospital, says the real worry about plans to downgrade nurse manager positions in the HNEAHS is it cuts the heart out of nursing career paths.

The HNEAHS has presented restructure plans that downgrade Stephen’s position from Nurse Manager 6 to Nurse Manager 5.

‘Sure, it’s insulting the AHS expects people to take on more work for less pay. But the most serious impact is on my nursing career and potential career pathways and opportunities for nursing professionals.

‘I uprooted my family from Queensland and came here to a position I viewed as a solid career move. Then, with limited consultation, my position has been downgraded.

‘For nurses down the line, there is a weaker career path in nursing and the profession has been degraded and devalued. This is a move that could take the profession back 20 years.’

As part of the HNEAHS restructure, the cluster general manager has been installed at Inverell District Hospital.

The HNEAHS argues the administrative components of Stephen’s role have been reduced with the cluster general manager onsite at Inverell.

‘But the presence of the general manager has not lessened my workload,’ said Stephen.

‘This is a large, active rural hospital, growing in activity and complexity from one year to the next. I am not just manager of the nursing workforce but I have responsibility for all the day-to-day tactical and operational functions of the service.

‘I am undertaking these responsibilities with reduced resources. I have lost clerical support and clinical/managerial support on a day-to-day level. The end result is a significantly greater workload,’ said Stephen.

According to Stephen, there are also inconsistencies with how the restructure has played out across the HNEAHS. ‘Nurses managers at smaller facilities with less activity are graded as Nurse Manager 6, yet I have been graded as level 5. Why would you want to go to a larger hospital and earn less when you could go to smaller hospital with less complexity and activity and earn more?’ he said.