Friday, December 19, 2008


Red News Readers,

Heard Deborah Cameron talking about this on ABC 702 and my blood pressure started to rise and I started to growl! Rang ABC 702 and they put me on hold. While I was on hold listening over the phone, Deborah interviewed Richard Matthews from NSW Health, who said this was only about aged care facilities in the country. Bullshit!! That's what they said about EENs, and in five seconds flat they were everywhere in the system!! Matthews said of course nurses would be consulted. Then they interviewed Brett Holmes from the NSWNA who made it clear the NSW Health Memo had gone out without consultation with the union, and that he was concerned because many of these country hospitals are multi functional, they do maternity, paediatrics, minor surgery, road trauma, as well as aged care. Deborah Cameron let him have his say then introduced me - I thought they were going to cut me off for lack of time!

I said that NSW Health were obviously not listening to what Garling was telling them. While Matthews might claim that these AINs were supervised by RNs, increasingly in the system, the RNs were new grads replacing the older staff who were retiring, and that one of the biggest problems in the system now was retention of new grads, because of the pressure being placed on them. Brett agreed with me, how could he not!! I went on to ask what has happened to the money that Rudd gave to the health, education and welfare system? Is that all going to be spent on infrastructure, when they can even fund the operational functions that they have got? No answer from Brett or Deborah to that question.

Jenny Haines

Skilled nurses to be replaced by cheaper alternative

Louise Hall Health Reporter, smh

December 19, 2008

REGISTERED nurses will be replaced by cheaper, less-qualified nurses and unqualified assistants, in the latest round of cost cutting by the State Government.

The plan to substitute university-trained registered nurses with enrolled and trainee nurses contradicts a $1.2 million study commissioned by NSW Health last year, which found that increasing the proportion of less-qualified staff in hospitals caused a range of preventable complications and deaths.

Hospital managers have been ordered to save $32 million within four years by downgrading nursing cover at small and rural hospitals. The ratio of assistants-in-nursing will increase to 50 per cent of the combined registered and enrolled nurse numbers.

Assistants-in-nursing have no minimum level of education and are not regulated by any nursing body. Some are students and others have a TAFE certificate in aged care. Since 1993, registered nurses have been university trained.

NSW Health says the cuts are justified because many hospitals are, in effect, working as aged-care facilities due to a shortage of nursing home places.

But the lead author of the Glueing It Together study, Christine Duffield, said the plan flew "in the face of the evidence that shows the more RNs you have, the better the patient outcome".

The three-year study used data from 27 NSW hospitals and found that a higher proportion of registered nurses produced lower rates of bed sores, intestinal bleeding, sepsis, shock, pulmonary failure, pneumonia and death of patients from a hospital-acquired complication.

"In the mini-budget [the Government] said no frontline services will be cut, but nursing is a frontline service," said Professor Duffield, from the Centre for Health Services Management at the University of Technology, Sydney. "They're just doing it to save money."

Area health services have been identifying registered nurse positions that can be replaced since August, pre-empting the $32 million edict in the mini-budget last month.

A leaked memo shows Greater Southern Area Health Service will turn 53 full-time equivalent registered nurse positions into enrolled nurse roles, each saving about $20,000 a year in salary, for a total of $800,000 by June.

Karen Lenihan, the director of nursing and midwifery at Greater Southern, said most registered nurses would be lost through natural attrition, not redundancy. "It's not really about saving money; it's about being efficient."

But the president of the NSW Nurses Association, Brett Holmes, said the modelling used to devise the skill mix was "based on budget, not patient need". He had serious concerns about patient safety and nurses' workload.

Less qualified nurses did not have the training to deal with critical emergencies and trauma, such as car accidents, he said.

The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said the changes would put lives at risk.