Members endorse claim for Campaign 2010

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Public health sector members endorse NSWNA draft claim that would deliver 5% pa pay rises and mandated staff ratios.

By 9 April, NSWNA Branches at public health hospitals and facilities voted to endorse the NSWNA draft claim for the Campaign 2010.

At Branch meetings across the state, public health sector members gave a resounding endorsement to the draft claim.

The claim includes a 5% pay and pay-related allowances increase per year for all nurses and midwives, over a proposed four-year agreement.

‘You deserve fair recognition and reward for your dedication and responsibility,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

‘Members told us that staffing and skill mix for safe patient care is a top priority, so the claim also includes mandated minimum staffing ratios.’

In developing the claim, the NSWNA consulted extensively with members in focus groups across Sydney and regional areas, an online survey last November, Branch meetings in December and through delegates at NSWNA Annual Conference.

Research will inform nurse to patient ratios and skill mix

The NSWNA is carrying out further extensive research to develop a more detailed claim for mandated staffing ratios, which will be served on NSW Health and the Government.

The first stage was a survey conducted in January-March of staffing levels in over 400 units and wards in public health system services across NSW.

The survey results provide a clear, tangible picture of current staffing levels and a vision of what the future might look like.

‘Members were given the opportunity to examine their current ratios and skill mix and give feedback on what they think they really need to provide safe patient care,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

‘Overall these preliminary results reveal that current staffing levels are inadequate. The survey results reveal evidence of staffing gaps, with not enough staff to provide safe patient care.’

Building on the survey results, the NSWNA has commissioned a major research project of nurse staffing levels and skill mix issues to be jointly conducted by leading nurse workforce and industrial relations academics, Associate Dean (Research) (Acting), UTS Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Christine Duffield, and Director, University of Sydney Workplace Research Centre, John Buchanan.

Professors Duffield and Buchanan will be formulating a research tool that will be used in the development of a ratios model for the specialty areas of general medical/surgical wards, palliative care, rehabilitation, emergency departments, community health and mental health.

Judith Kiejda said, ‘The Victorian ratios model does not cover community or mental health but the NSWNA is working to develop a mandated minimum staffing system that can be applied to these areas of nursing.’

In developing the ratios models for these specialty areas, NSWNA Officers will be visiting Public Health Services in May and convening expert panels to get input from experienced nurses in the specialty areas.

‘In addition, the NSWNA has already claimed the implementation of ACORN 2008 standards for operating theatres but there has been no response from NSW Health. A response from the Department about possible wide implementation of Birthrate Plus is expected in May,’ said Judith.

‘The NSWNA will be also holding workshops in the next few months to enable members to discuss and have input into the final ratios claim that will be presented to NSW Health,’ said Judith.

The expert panels and workshops will be held at selected representative locations.

What you voted on

Recognition and reward for your dedication and responsibility

  • 5% pay and pay-related allowances increase per year for all nurses and midwives, over a proposed four-year agreement.
  • 1% extra employer-provided superannuation per year ie. 13% by 2013.
  • Meal allowance to be paid for overtime before, as well as after a rostered shift.
  • Return 100% of salary packaging savings to nurses, not just 50%.
  • Clearer rules for In Charge of Shift payment.

Staffing and skill mix for safe patient care

  • Mandated minimum staffing ratios with a skill mix consideration.
  • A clear and simple set of workload rules that management must stick to.
  • Award to include fair rostering principles.

Professional recognition and development

  • Reinstate Higher Grade Duty payment for every shift (not only for 5+).
  • Improved study leave to match Queensland nurses: three days per annum for conferences plus allowances; plus leave and course costs for tertiary study.
  • ENs graduating as RNs should start at the RN Year 2 pay rate.
  • Continuing Education Allowance for CNCs who achieve a qualification higher than the minimum required for their role.
  • Union delegates to have paid leave for NSWNA Committee of Delegates meetings.

Promoting a better work-life balance for nurses and midwives

  • Rotating shift nurses should be free from night duty immediately before starting leave and on the first shift back from leave.
  • Increase paid maternity/adoption leave to 26 weeks (partly funded by the proposed Federal Government scheme) and paternity leave to four weeks.
  • Management should not unreasonably refuse nurses’ requests for 12-hour shifts on a unit.
  • Better insurance for NETS (Newborn & Paediatric Emergency Transport Services)/Air Ambulance nurses.