Sunday, August 16, 2009


Red News Readers,

My experience with centralised rostering in the past is that it is inflexible. That was why the rank and file nurses' demands over the years devolved to Request Rostering at ward or unit level. It does create work for the Nursing Unit Managers, but a good NUM teaches her senior staff to roster and spreads the work around. There are some ward based computerised rostering systems that are time savers and remain flexible. Greater inflexibility in nurses rosters will only lead to greater dissatisfaction.

It doesn’t seem as though NSW Health is learning the right lessons from the Garling Report, and there is a contradiction in what they are doing, with what the Feds are doing. Roxon is putting money behind RN positions in universities and Bringing Nurses Back to the Workforce which is mainly designed to attract RNs and ENs. Meanwhile, NSW Health is filling RN position with AINs. Next thing we are going to have is RN unemployment at a time of RN shortages! Their crazy!!

Jenny Haines

$4m for 10 bureaucrats to do rosters as nurses go

Eamonn Duff and Louise Hall, Sun Herald

August 16, 2009

THE NSW Government will pay 10 bureaucrats an average of $100,000 a year to micro-manage the rosters of all nurses, junior doctors and allied health staff while hundreds of front-line hospital workers are made redundant to save money.

Documents leaked to The Sun-Herald reveal the rostering of almost all NSW Health staff will be taken away from local managers and centralised in a new electronic system.

On top of the $4 million set aside over four years to create 10 management roles at the Gladesville-based ''Rostering Centre of Excellence'', a panel of ''change management consultants'' will be paid to help roll out the system across the state.

Health unions say the situation is the latest example of a health department devising short-term policies that contradict each other and lead to poor morale and put patients at risk.

NSW Minister for Health John Della Bosca said voluntary redundancies and widespread replacement of registered nurses with unqualified assistants in nursing were necessary as the health budget increased by a record 10 per cent this year.

''The reality is that every area of hospital activity is under scrutiny so we can pay our bills,'' he told the NSW Nurses' Association annual conference last month. ''The status quo is not sustainable in the face of rising demand, an ageing population and a limited budget.''

Mr Della Bosca has championed the introduction of 500 clinical support officers, who will provide administrative help, including rostering, to nurses so they can focus on patients.

But the Health Services Union organiser Adam Hall said Area Health Services are currently making experienced administrative and allied health workers redundant.

He said of the 1100 applications received for 73 clinical support officer positions at Sydney West, only 10 were from current employees. ''Why would you spend taxpayers' money to pay out all these redundancies when you've got to hire more people to do the same job - it's crazy.''

NSW Nurses' Association general secretary Brett Holmes said the plan to offer voluntary redundancies to experienced nurses and replace registered nurses with assistants in nursing flies in the face of Garling inquiry recommendations.

''Garling was adamant that experienced nurses are crucial … It is difficult to see how voluntary redundancies, which will increase workloads, reduce [ward skill levels] and put more pressure on the nurses who remain, is consistent with Garling recommendations.''

Christine Duffield from the Centre for Health Services Management at Sydney's University of Technology headed a $1.2 million study in 2007 that showed increasing the proportion of less-qualified staff in hospitals caused preventable deaths.

She said a faceless public servant churning out pro forma rosters was no match for a nursing unit manager.

Opposition spokeswoman for Health Jillian Skinner said the archaic, paper-based payroll and rostering systems in NSW Health were overdue for modernisation. But she said any centralised electronic rostering system must be flexible enough to accommodate the ''human factors'' such as family responsibilities.

A NSW Health spokesman said the Rostering Centre of Excellence was part of an upgrade of the department's IT systems and aimed at freeing up nurse unit managers and heads of department from administrative roles. ''It is not intended that the centre will devise rosters in a single location nor replace the local development of rosters,'' he said. ''Staff will continue to have an input.''