Byron workload dispute heats up

NSWNA takes NCAHS to IR Commission.

The NSWNA has taken the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, following the continued refusal by the AHS to appoint a full-time ward clerk at Byron District Hospital.

The case for more clerical support was endorsed by the hospital’s Reasonable Workloads Committee and network general manager, yet NCAHS continues to reject, refute or simply ignore the growing evidence that there is a clerical workload problem.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the health system’s growing dependence on databases had increased the amount of paperwork nurses were required to complete each shift. ‘This increased paperwork burden is posing excessive pressure on nurse workloads,’ she said.

‘Nurses cannot do what they are trained to do if they have to be responsible for so much data entry and administration in hospitals. We understand some clerical work is necessary but all these new responsibilities are taking the most talented of our nurses away from patient care,’ said Judith.

Nurse Unit Manager Liz McCall said nurses were fed up with the strain of excessive workloads and the failure of the NCAHS to respond to their concerns.

‘Its just a matter of time before something gives,’ said Liz. ‘We have had payroll, HR and recruitment dumped on us, not to mention complex new computer systems with no IT support. We’ve been at breaking point. I’m a nurse not an accountant!,’ she said.

Documents show the NCAHS regularly uses staffing comparisons from one hospital to justify rejections of enhanced staffing requests at another.

‘To say that other facilities are in a similar position does not make the situation right – it just means that many managers are struggling under the increasing clerical/IT workload. Byron is not the only facility without adequate clerical support either in the ward or ED,’ said Liz.

‘We have been incredibly reasonable. Until now we have accepted the increased clerical and IT workload but let’s face it, we have basically been absorbing the cost of downsizing in other NCAHS departments,’ said Liz.

‘The time and stress related to this dispute weighs heavily on nursing staff.’