Wednesday 2nd February 2011
Determined action has won a stronger mechanism to enforce safe staffing in Community Health and Community Mental Health.
While the Government’s offer on nurse-to-patient ratios is an excellent achievement that will benefit the majority of public health sector nurses, the offer does not include maximum, mandated face to face client hours in the areas of community and community mental health.
The NSWNA has fought hard over the past few weeks and has achieved significant improvements for these important nursing areas.
NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said, ‘As a result of our determined negotiations and rallies by members across the state, the NSWNA has achieved a gain by improving the wording in the workloads clause to make this a much better mechanism for the enforcement of reasonable staffing.
‘Our experience in closing beds and services was an important part of the campaign. We now know we have a better tool to enforce safe staffing into the future, irrespective of whether we have ratios in a certain specialty or not.’
The NSWNA will also look at all other avenues before the next Award campaign to improve staffing including through the role of the Federal Government in these areas.
‘It’s very disappointing the Government refused our claim in community and community mental health. But no where else in the world has anyone won ratios in these areas, including Victoria and California,’ said Brett.
‘Even without maximum face to face hours there is now plenty of scope to control workloads. For nurses on the ground we need to be firm in our position that if there is no money for extra staff there shouldn’t be any extra services.’
Lilian Booth, an RN at Orange Community Health agrees.
‘In Community Health there are always things that you can not do and by not doing them you get through to your manager that you haven’t got enough staff. Not everything we do is urgent.’
Lilian says it is disappointing that Community Health and Community Mental Health didn’t get maximum, face to face client hours but it is still a good stepping stone.
‘I’ve been working in nursing for 40 years so I would have been surprised if they caved in and gave us everything at once. It’s a start and a huge improvement. Any mandated staffing level is better than what we’ve got.’