Workloads campaign gains ground in Armidale

After successfully insisting on their right to a 10-hour break between shifts, Armidale Hospital nurses have won further gains in their campaign to reduce excessive workloads.

The nurses opted for an 8-hour break between shifts in 2004 but sought a 10-hour break in January after the hospital switched responsibility for recovery from the ICU to theatre.

Management granted the request, but on terms that were impossible to meet with existing staff numbers. These were to roster an evening shift to cover overtime and provide a later start after an on-call shift.

After the NSWNA informed nurses of their award entitlements, they insisted on their right to a 10-hour break, and got it.

‘We thought we were in heaven after that,’ said Janet McColl, NSWNA delegate and Past President of the Association branch at the hospital.

Janet said management had gone some way towards meeting the branch’s request for more staff, including an additional nurse employed for two shifts per week and full-time hours for a part-timer.

‘It’s a partial solution and we have a long way to go to achieve reasonable workloads,’ she said.

‘We are being asked to work heaps of overtime and we can’t come to an agreement with management about what reasonable overtime means.

‘Management has not replied to our request for a nurse educator. They are replacing senior staff with mostly inexperienced staff and staffing has become very bottom-heavy.

‘They want registered nurses to do the job of a nurse educator, but we need updating and educating ourselves.‘

The union branch is helping to reconstitute the hospital’s Reasonable Workloads Committee to make it more effective.