No reason to change system

John Hunter Hospital nurses have no idea why Area management wants to change the existing roster system.

‘Rostering is always a difficult issue but most nurses feel the old roster system works well, enabling people to juggle their family and work lives,’ said Midwife Educator Susan Forbes.

‘People are happy with what’s in place. We have not heard a solid reason for changing the system,’ she said.

NSWNA delegate at the hospital Paul Widseth is part of the union team discussing the proposed roster change with management.

‘The members biggest gripe is they are not being told why it is necessary to change the system. If the Area had some valid reasons to change it, people would listen. But we are being told we have to change without being given any reasons why,’ Paul said.

‘There probably are grounds to look at centralising some of the rostering work to take the strain off the NUMs, but the proposed pattern rostering doesn’t offer the flexibility of the system we already have in place. In today’s society, that sort of flexibility is really important.’

Paul said more than 400 members attended a union meeting on a week night at Wests Leagues Club, New Lambton, to discuss the proposed changes.

‘Members are really disgruntled. They don’t feel supported by Area management and we’re not getting answers to our questions. There’s not a lot of trust at the moment. Some people will undoubtedly seek alternative employment if the new system comes in.’

Down the road at the Royal Newcastle Centre, members agree with their John Hunter colleagues that many nurses will be forced to leave due to the inflexibility of the new roster system.

‘We have a high proportion of nurses who have children and the old system allowed flexibility so they could work around their family responsibilities,’ said Terry Bellamy, RN at the Royal Newcastle Centre.

‘It’s a system that has been in place for years and has helped create a family-friendly culture in the Area. The new roster system will change that culture.’

‘On the face of it, a system of pattern rostering, where there is a slow rotation, offers fairness and equity but does not meet fixed weekly needs or demands upon nurses.

‘Nurses will leave if the new system is introduced and there are no great numbers of x and y generation nurses waiting to grab the jobs.’

Terry said there is no solid rationale for introducing the new system and believes that HNEAHS is only proceeding to justify money it has already spent on the system.

‘The HNEAHS is trying to save face. When you consider the cost of experienced nurses leaving the system, it is just throwing good money after bad.’