More pay, better career paths for CNSs, CNEs and NEs

The review into the definition, role and work value of CNE, NE and CNS classifications (and their midwife equivalents) has delivered very good pay increases and improved clinical and educational career paths.

The review was conducted as a result of the previous 2005-2008 public health system wages and conditions agreement.

A new CN/MS Grade 1 position has been created with a more clearly defined role than the current CN/MS classification.

A new CN/MS Grade 2 classification has been created that delivers an excellent advanced practice role and forms a better bridge to the Clinical Nurse/Midwife Consultants and Nurse/Midwife Practitioners classifications. The Government will introduce a funding mechanism equal to creating approximately 1,000 FTE Grade 2 positions in 2008-2009.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the review effectively breaks the link between the CN/ME and the CN/MS classifications.

‘This was the goal of an Annual Conference resolution voted for by NSWNA delegates in 2004,’ she said. ‘Members employed in these revised classifications now stand to receive up to 20% pay increases between 2008 and 2010, on top of the general 7.95% wages increase.’

In the first 12-month period alone, CN/MEs will receive a guaranteed 15.9% increase. A CN/ME with a diploma qualification will receive an increase of 19.6%. A CN/ME with a Masters qualification will receive an increase of 20.4%.

A new N/ME classification structure with three grades has been introduced. N/MEs reclassified to the new Grades 2 and 3 will receive increases of 12% and 18.5% respectively in the first 12 months.

An end to unfair ‘local criteria’
In a major breakthrough there will no longer be ‘local criteria’ for the CN/MS role. Local ‘additional requirements’ will be completely banned and the same requirements will apply statewide.

‘This will remove a major disincentive to nurses achieving and retaining their personal grade status. It will reward nurses for choosing to stay in the clinical stream,’ said Judith Kiejda.

This delivers a major improvement to the CNS Grade 1 and was the number one problem voiced by NSWNA members to NSWNA.

Financial reward for extra responsibility 

‘The continuing education allowance for CNEs recognises the level of responsibility carried by these nurses on the wards. Previously I wanted to go down the nursing education path but I wasn’t getting any financial reward for this extra responsibility. The extra pay will encourage people to specialise in nursing education.’
Noelene Williams, CNE at Tweed Heads Hospital.

Stronger career paths
‘Broadening the CNE and CNS positions provides stronger career paths for specialist nurses, which will appeal to younger nurses. The CNE position generally works day shift, Monday to Friday, and is therefore not eligible for penalty rates. Penalty rates make a big difference in your pay packet – up to $12,000 year. The extra pay for CNEs goes some way in compensating this.’
Brian Grant, Branch President and CNS at Liverpool Hospital.

Labor has two years to sort out its health funding
The 7.95% pay increase is for a two year Agreement – from 1 July, 2008 to 30 June, 2010.

In the May Federal Budget the Rudd Government established a $10 billion health fund and shifted the emphasis away from subsidising private health funds towards greater investment in public health.

This reversed the trend that had emerged under the Howard Government, which had allowed the federal share of funding of public hospitals to slip from 50 to 42%.

The new challenge for nurses, according to NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes, will be to convince the Federal Government that workforce shortages are at the heart of the public health system’s woes.

‘Under the previous Howard Government, health was a political football between the Federal and State Governments. Nurses are sick of that. Now that there are Labor Governments at both levels of government we want to see an end to the blame game,’ he said.

‘Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon must recognise that nurses are propping up the system and more resources need to be allocated to attract nurses back into our public hospitals.’