NSW Health introduces unlicensed workers

Unlicensed workers need to be supervised by qualified nurses for patient safety, says NSWNA.

NSW Health has confirmed it is working with the Area Health Services to trial new unlicensed classifications.

The NSWNA has clearly signalled its concerns to NSW Health that staff covered by these classifications undertaking invasive procedures or observations, without the in-depth understanding of the physiology behind them, could have a serious adverse impact on patient care.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes says the introduction of this new category of worker into the acute sector must be monitored by nurses with the utmost vigilance.

‘The introduction of this sort of employee into the acute sector in other countries as well as their use in the aged care sector in Australia has had many negative consequences for nurses,’ he said.

‘We have concerns the introduction of such a health worker will place more pressure on nurses who will have to take professional responsibility for patient safety. There is ample, unequivocal evidence that finds patients have better health outcomes with more highly skilled staff.’

Brett Holmes says the Garling Report did recommend the creation of other classifications to assist experienced and skilled staff in our public hospitals.

‘I do not believe widespread replacement was his intention and his report is peppered with references to the need for experienced staff and appropriate clinical supervision,’ he said.

‘If this model is misused in any way to undermine the role of nursing in our public hospitals we will not hesitate to properly inform the public by whatever means necessary of the risks to patient safety.’