Saturday 20th February 2010
NSWNA research reveals a picture of issues and concerns for nurses, helping form priorities for our up-and-coming public health system pay campaign.
It’s going to be a big year for nurses and their Union as a pay and conditions campaign in our public health system looms and as we turn up the heat for a better deal for the aged care sector.
Late last year the NSWNA conducted a series of focus groups, a comprehensive online survey of all members and Branch meetings to listen to your opinions on a range of relevant issues from the impact of the global financial crisis on nurses’ lives to contemporary life at the coal face of the health system.
Here is some of what you told us.
The impact of the economic downturn
Few nurses have experienced any personal impact from the economic downturn. Some nurses report extra household stress due to their partners losing shifts or jobs and have become more cautious about spending. Some older nurses have lost money on superannuation.
In the workplace nurses recognise that the economic downturn had added to the financial pressure on the health system and as a result there are fewer available resources (both equipment and staff). Nurses say they face constant demands from management to meet shrinking budgets.
The pressure cooker workplace
The demands on nurses are getting worse with increased workloads, staff shortages and rising patient acuity. Nurses reported a rise in aggression from patients and their families and a focus on budgets and ‘task-oriented nursing’ rather than patient care.
Nurses voiced concerns about how these factors impacted on patient safety and the safety of nursing staff. Many nurses say that patients are ‘falling through the gaps’ because nurses are too stretched to deal with all patient needs.
The survey revealed staunch support for the NSWNA to be a strong voice for the nursing profession and as an advocate for adequate staffing levels and skill mix.
Workloads threaten safety
The research indicates that the current public health system workload tool is of limited effectiveness in dealing with workload issues. Only 12% of nurses know of the workload committee in their workplace achieving anything within the past 12 months; 27% were unsure if their workplace even has a workload committee.
Widespread support for aged care campaign
Aged care nurses feel undervalued by the public and the wider nursing profession. They do feel recognised by nursing home residents and their families. They stay in their jobs because they are committed to their work and care for their patients.
Loyal to your union
The survey indicates strong levels of interaction by members with the NSWNA and general satisfaction with the Union’s work and the level of communication. Relatively high levels of members had called the Association by phone (52%), spoken with an official from work (48%) or attended a workplace meeting (46%) in the past year.
There was a high level of awareness and satisfaction with key NSWNA campaigns, with the Your Rights At Work the most popular.
How & when to get involved
The NSWNA will be holding several forums, meetings and training days throughout February for public health system manager members to have a say about the new award, or learn how to get involved more effectively.