Progress on reasonable workloads tools slow but steady


Delays are being experienced with the implementation of the workloads tools, but members are reminded of their legal right to a reasonable workload under the Public Hospital Nurses’ (State) Award.

The General Workload Calculation Tool is now rolled out in most of the hospitals identified in the first phase of the tool’s implementation.

Implementation of the tool at the remaining hospitals in the first phase is expected to be completed by December 2005.

The second phase of the roll-out is now well underway. The tool will be implemented at the hospitals in phase two during early 2006.

The General Workload Calculation Tool has been developed to measure nurse workloads in surgical and medical wards in public hospitals.

It was developed after the introduction of the Reasonable Workloads Clause in the Public Hospital Nurses’ (State) Award, which enforces nurses’ legal right to a reasonable workload.

NSWNA Officers visited public hospitals in the first phase of the roll out to provide education on the application of the Reasonable Workloads Clause, demonstrate how the tool operates and examine case studies where the award provision and tool have been successfully used to address workload issues.

According to Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda, there are now several cases where the Reasonable Workloads Committee has used the results of the tool to address nurse workload issues.

‘Nurses working in surgical and medical wards at a number of hospitals have used the general workloads calculation tool to prove there are inadequate levels of nursing staff for the patient load. Once presented with the evidence, management in each case has had an award obligation to consider the recommendation of the committee and has provided a reasonable workload.’

Extensive work has been also done tailoring the Birthrate Plus workload calculation tool from a UK setting to NSW midwifery settings.
According to Judith Kiejda, the NSWNA strongly objected to a number of proposals by NSW Health that could have had an adverse affect on midwives.

Trials were conducted at a number of hospitals of varying size to gather data for the adaptation of the UK model and the results presented to the NSW Reasonable Workloads Committee.

Judith explained that some inconsistencies were identified with the data. ‘Further meetings have been organised to resolve these problems and identify the most appropriate way to adapt the UK model.

‘This has meant there have been some delays in the implementation of the Birthrate Plus tool but there’s no point put–ting in place a tool that is incorrect.’ said Judith.

‘As the process of developing the workloads tool progresses, members should remember they have a legally enforceable right to reasonable workload under the Public Hospital Nurses’ (State) Award.

‘The Reasonable Workloads Clause in the Award enables public hospital nurses to establish a Reasonable Workloads Committee at their workplace, comprising representatives from management and the NSWNA. The committee makes recommendations to management about measures to address the workload issues,’ said Judith.

There has also been some progress in development of Community Health, Mental Health and Emergency Department workloads tools.
The Mental Health working group is in the process of trialling methods for data collection to test the proposed methodology. The Emergency Department working group is continuing to explore different methodologies for data collection.

The Community Health working group has completed initial validation studies and has commenced a more extensive validation process by using the proposed methodology.