Royal Newcastle backdown on AiNs

Students won`t fill EN positions

Royal Newcastle Centre will stop employing nursing assistants to fill enrolled nurse positions, following intervention by the NSWNA.

The Association has also won a commitment from management to abandon a plan to put permanent part-time nurses onto 6-hour shifts.

Royal Newcastle Centre is the former Royal Newcastle Hospital, now relocated to the Rankin Park campus of John Hunter Hospital.

Deb Barnes, a clinical nurse specialist in urology and secretary of the NSWNA branch at the centre, said third year student nurses were employed as AiNs to fill EN positions in the combined urology and rheumatology ward.

She said branch members supported the employment of undergraduate nurses to provide support to the nursing team and give student nurses income and experience – but not to fill vacant EN or RN positions.

‘The RNs felt this practice was unsafe and put more pressure on them because they had to supervise the AiNs,’ Deb said.

‘It was also contrary to NSW Health policy that AiNs must not be rostered onto shift vacancies unless there are genuinely no RNs or ENs available.’

On the issue of part timers, Deb said nurses contracted for 24 hours work a week on 3 x 8-hour shifts were faced with a management demand that they move to 4 x 6-hour shifts.

‘This would have made life a lot harder for nurses with children,’ she said.

‘Nurses would have had to come in to the centre an extra day a week and pay about $50 a week more in child care fees – assuming they could find a vacancy at a care centre.’

A meeting of the NSWNA branch at the centre demanded that management abide by the Public Health System State Award (clause 6) that says significant change for a class or group of employees may not be introduced without their approval.

Management agreed to employ all permanent part timers on 8-hour shifts, unless an individual nurse specifically requests a shorter shift, and not to pursue the 6-hour shift plan.

Management also agreed to hire ENs to replace all AiNs employed in EN positions.