Kempsey nurses win safe staffing campaign

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After months of campaigning, Kempsey Hospital Branch has won one extra nurse per shift in ED.

NSWNA Kempsey Hospital Branch is celebrating a significant victory in its campaign for one more RN per shift in the hospital’s busy ED, with the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) agreeing to almost all their demands.

A review of staffing levels by the NCAHS recommended an extra RN for night duty seven nights a week, an extra RN for a swing shift between 9am and 5pm, and a part-time CT scan nurse.

Branch Secretary Di Lohman said staff at Kempsey ED are ‘over the moon’ with the outcome of the campaign. Over four months members held rallies and candlelight vigils to let the local community know about the unsafe staffing levels at the hospital.

‘This is a significant win for the Branch and demonstrates that if members stick together and maintain a co-ordinated and disciplined campaign they can achieve improved workloads for their members,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘The members would not have been able to achieve such a great outcome without a Branch structure to manage the campaign and support the members.’

The Kempsey safe staffing campaign was covered extensively by the local media, and attracted the support of local MPs including Andrew Stoner, who was presented at Parliament with more than 6,000 signatures in support of the nurses’ claims.

Di said the campaign’s success would not have been possible without the assistance of the NSWNA and a strong local Branch.

‘Staff are very appreciative of the Union. To have a strong Branch at your hospital means you have the power to make a difference and change what you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. You need a collective voice and expertise.

‘It’s easy to organise rallies and so on with the help of the Union. We started out fairly green and shaky on what power we had but as we started to go through the process, the Association was very supportive and encouraging. The more energy and input we had, the more they encouraged and supported us, both financially and with their physical hard work. I can’t say enough about how happy we are with the Union’s work,’ said Di.

Although staff at Kempsey ED didn’t get the three RNs they asked for (one per shift), they got the additional benefit of a part-time CT scan nurse instead. ‘It’s a successful win because we didn’t ask for a CT scan nurse but we did point out in the negotiations that there is no nurse at CT so it meant if an ED patient had to have a scan, an ED RN would have to go with them,’ said Di.

Although final sign-off on the recommendations is not yet complete, Di said NCAHS has indicated it will implement them by the end of July.