Red News Readers,
Judith Kiejda may claim in the Letters Column of the Sydney Morning Herald that the claims that the Nurses Association sanctions the use of Assistants in Nursing in place of Registered and Enrolled nurses are wrong, but the facts are that the nursing workforce is deskilling. Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing do fill Registered Nurse positions on a one for one basis. This process has been well underway for over 8 years now, despite a lengthy dispute over these issues at RPAH in 2001-3, and only now, when the change to Enrolled Nurse education is being implemented, has the Association put on the Agenda with the State Government as part of the Mini Budget package, the formulation of ratios of Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing to Registered Nurse positions. Even where nurses work in teams, there is a heavy burden on the registered nurse who is responsible for supervising Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing in their clinical work. If there is a mix of a Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing where formerly there was a team of Registered Nurses, the public cannot expect the same standard of care.
LETTER FROM JUDITH KIEJDA, 28.1.09
No nursing shortcuts
Claims that the NSW Nurses Association "sanctions the use of assistants in nursing in place of registered and enrolled nurses" (Letters, January 26) are wrong.
It is inappropriate and unsafe to replace registered nurses with less qualified nurses as a shortcut to overcoming the registered nurse shortage or to cut costs.
It is sometimes acceptable to build nursing teams in which enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing support registered nurses. However, the skill mix must be properly assessed and a clear role identified for assistants, appropriate to their level of knowledge and skill.
The association wants a recognised qualification for nursing assistants, which they should have before being employed.
Judith Kiejda Acting general secretary, NSW Nurses Association, Camperdown
LETTER FROM AN EN, 28.1.09
From my experience of nursing training - through TAFE as a medication-endorsed enrolled nurse and then as a registered nurse through university - I believe the paid TAFE/hospital model should remain.
It should be a mandatory precursor for degree-level studies. You cannot pass through training as an enrolled nurse and not come out with an appreciation of the realities of nursing.
A government with vision would view the paid-training model as a means of increasing the number and quality of nurses. It represents a gamble in terms of participants remaining in nursing after enrolment, but those who do are there because they are motivated and interested - something money cannot buy. They are also in a position to make a more meaningful and better qualified (and better paid) contribution while they do their degree.
The move to offer training at cost through the private sector may make more places available to those who can pay, but this should not be to the detriment of those who cannot. Several colleagues in my group at TAFE - all excellent contributors to the profession - would not be where they are now without the state's investment in human capital.
Wendy Peddell. Newtown.