Downgrade undermines nursing and the community

Mona Timo, Health Services Manager at Crookwell Hospital, says the restructure plans proposed by the GSAHS would downgrade her position and increase her workload to an impossible level.

‘My role is extremely busy. I oversee all facets of the health service from administration, hotel services and maintenance services to overseeing the management of the in-patient and community health services,’ said Mona, who is also Secretary of the NSWNA Nurse Managers’ branch in the GSAHS.

‘The restructure was supposed to ease my administrative responsibility but my workload has increased. I still have day-to-day responsibility for all facets of the hospital. The general manager of the cluster is located 40 kms away at Goulburn Hospital. He is not going to come out to Crookwell to change a lightglobe, for example.

‘I am now also bombarded with requests for reports and information, all with unreasonable deadlines,’ she said.

Despite the level of activity at Crookwell Hospital and Mona’s busy role managing the day-to-day operations of the service, the GSAHS has tabled plans to downgrade her position from a nurse manager level 4 to level 3.

The proposal also imposes a clinical load on the position of two days’ per week.

‘My workload is already extremely heavy. I work more than 50 hours a week. Imposing a clinical load will increase my workload to an unmanageable level.

‘I am already required to undertake clinical duties when nurses are sick or emergencies arise. Then I have to take my management duties home. I do 6-8 hours work at home each week.

‘But if a clinical role was part of the position and I was caught up carrying out clinical duties, I would not be available to deal with my management responsibilities.

‘It places an unreasonable burden on my position but the impact will be felt down the nursing line and in the wider community,’ said Mona.

‘When senior nurses are downgraded, it sends a message to nurses down the line that the nursing profession is not valued. They will not stay if they don’t feel valued.

‘But the implications go beyond nursing. The harmony of the community here will be destroyed. Crookwell Hospital is an important institution in the local community. There is no bulk billing here and people front up to ED for medical treatment because they cannot afford to pay to see GP or they are unable to get a timely appointment.

‘Nurses play a vital role in the local community. Downgrading their role undermines the confidence and respect the community has for nurses and the hospital.’

Mona said there has been inadequate consultation with nurse managers over the proposed changes to their grading and roles.

‘Nurse managers are feeling very isolated. The plan has been thrust on them without appropriate consultation and feedback beyond initial discussions that occurred with the group of nurse managers from the cluster,’ said Mona.

The NSWNA Nurse Managers’ branch in the GSAHS has passed a resolution demanding that the plans be withdrawn. ‘The branch is calling for a complete review of the proposal to remove inconsistencies and inequities in grading and role and unreasonable increases in workload,’ said Mona.

‘We also want nurse managers represented in the union-specific discussions coming up.’