Update: RHH Staffing and conditions

29 May 2019

ANMF attends fortnightly workload meetings regarding staffing on the Department of Psychiatry (DoP). The following was discussed at the last meeting:

Patient Numbers: Mental Health presentations to the Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) continue to be high with an average of 8 patients waiting for beds on DoP. Patient length of stay in DEM remains high. As a result, the Psychiatric Emergency Nurses (PEN) nurses continue to experience high workloads with excessive ratios.

DoP – Roster Gaps: Roster gaps are becoming easier to fill as new staff come on board. Management asserts that sick leave has reduced: aided by movements of some long-term patients from the High Dependency Unit (HDU) etc.

Transition to Practice Positions (TTP) – All positions are full. Three extra positions will be filled with graduates identified for a late start. The business case for clinical coaches remains under development by mental health services.

Enrolled Nurses: Two new positions have been announced. One Enrolled Nurse (EN) will be commencing soon at 0.79, the other is full time. Leaving a very small vacancy in EN.

Grad Dip: Three nurses coming to this with 1.48 FTE vacant.

Assistant Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM): Three FTE all filled one acting, two coming from the UK.

Registered Nurses: DoP requires 36 FTE Registered Nurses (RN) for full establishment. 27 FTE are currently filled. 2.5 are quarantined for TTP, leaving  6.0 FTE currently vacant. Expressions of interest will be put out for these positions ASAP.  Agency staff continue to be utilised.

Staffing (PEN): Night duty for PEN is difficult to cover as there are so few PEN’s which means increased nights. Management will meet with Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) management next week to discuss PEN night cover. Agency staff are reluctant to cover the role given the high night duty quota. ANMF provided information on award requirements and suggested reviewing the policy on rostering to ensure nights are fair and reasonable.

Nursing Hours Per Patient Day (NHPPD) temporary FTE: The extra 4.5 temporary FTE awarded after ANMF raised a workload grievance in 2018 remain unfilled due to difficulty with recruitment. Discussions are underway regarding the trial of a new shift on DoP to provide extra support on the unit. Some of this 4.5 FTE could be used to manage this shift. An EOI for an experienced nursing project person will go out soon in preparation for the move to K Block. The position will be filled using some of this temporary 4.5 FTE. This position will assist with freeing up existing nursing staff from doing redevelopment work.

Night Duty: Currently rostering on DoP does not necessarily follow the rostering guidelines. A review of the requirement to adhere to the rostering guidelines for night duty is necessary to make rostering nights easier. However, this will mean staff would be rostered to do blocks of nights in line with the award, as is done on other wards. ANMF invite members to come forward to discuss this matter.

ANMF Workplace Representatives, or passionate members about the issue, are invited to attend the next workload meeting. ANMF will provide an update on the timing of the next meeting when available.