‘Responsive rosters’ threat goes statewide

New software being explored by NSW Health may allow statewide roll out of ‘responsive rostering’.

Officially, the introduction of a controversial new ‘responsive rostering’ system in the Hunter New England Area Health Service has been suspended pending the result of a joint union/management research project.

On 21 June the HNEAHS and NSW Nurses’ Association appeared before Deputy President Harrison of the NSW Industrial Commission.

Both sides agreed that implementation of the ‘responsive rostering’ project would be suspended while a joint consultative committee carried out research into the current request-based roster system with the assistance of academic experts.

But the threat remains that ‘responsive rostering’ may go statewide with the backing of NSW Health at a senior level. Consultants employed by HNEAHS to promote the new rosters in the Hunter New England Area say they are also helping NSW Health to obtain

Treasury funding for statewide rostering software to replace the current rostering system, which they say is outdated and fragile.

Canadian-based consulting firm Workforce Edge has been engaged by NSW Health to develop ‘a business case to secure funding for a statewide rostering software to replace legacy systems’, according to the company’s website (www.workforce-edge.com/work.html#NSW ).

‘The business case will represent the interests of the Area Health Services across the state, as well as the Department of Health and the

NSW Health Support Services organisation, and will be submitted to Treasury for review and approval,’ the website says.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said he is concerned the implementation of this new software would enable roster reform in Area Health Services across NSW, such as the responsive rostering proposed by HNEAHS.

By its own admission, Workforce Edge Consulting says its project includes ‘development of responsive rosters for all nursing units in the largest hospitals in the Area’.

Workforce Edge claims its findings and recommendations led HNEAHS to decide to introduce responsive rostering.

‘Once the new technology is in place, it would be left to the discretion of each AHS Chief Executive as to whether they would use the technology to implement roster reform in their AHS,’ said Brett.

‘I have strongly raised my concerns with NSW Health. They have acknowledged the risk of rolling out the new system and cannot rule out that it would be utilised for roster reform,’ he said.