Big workloads win for Manning maternity nurses

Union action has delivered a full-time CNE, a call roster for afternoon shift and other improvements to the maternity unit at Manning Base Hospital.

A strong campaign, with support from all NSWNA members at the hospital, convinced management to agree to the changes, after initially claiming there was no money available to pay.

The campaign began in December 2005, when the local Reasonable Workloads Committee recommended a review of the maternity unit, following concerns raised by NSWNA members about clinical issues.

The review, which included personnel selected by management, reported in May 2006.

The review recommended;

  • A full-time CNE be appointed to the unit;
  • An additional eight midwifery hours for the afternoon shift;
  • A maternity services advisory group (MSAG) be formed ASAP to examine clinical practices;
  • Only one elective caesarean per weekday and none on weekends;
  • Only one elective induction of labour per weekday.

Management supported the recommendations but argued it could fund only 0.6 of a full-time CNE and none of the other suggested reforms.

Funding the remaining recommendations would be a priority in the 2007/2008 budget, management said.

NSWNA members in the maternity unit met with the local NSWNA Branch Executive and decided to demand that all recommendations be funded immediately.

Management rejected this demand and the NSWNA notified a dispute. A meeting of the Area Reasonable Workloads Committee refined the NSWNA demands to a full-time CNE, the extra afternoon shift and the formation of a MSAG without delay.

With the maternity unit staff receiving strong and united support from other NSWNA members on site, management backed down.

Management made a new offer:

  • A full-time CNE;
  • The MSAG, including two NSWNA-appointed  members, to meet within 14 days;
  • An on-call roster for the afternoon shift.

NSWNA members accepted the offer and are now enjoying considerably improved working conditions.

Everyone got behind us

‘Patient safety was our biggest issue. We wanted to provide adequate care.

‘We all banded together and just kept chipping away. We had really good help from our organiser and the Branch in general.

‘The changes have reduced staff stress levels. We’ve now got that on-call person at the end of the line. It’s really good.

‘Thanks to Leanne and Robyn and the Manning Branch. Everyone got behind us.’

Robyn Broadbent, CNS, maternity unit