Lifehouse nurses win ratios
Nurses at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse have overwhelmingly approved a new enterprise agreement (EA), including their first ever nurse-to-patient ratios.
Nurses at Lifehouse, a Sydney cancer treatment centre, voted 90 per cent in favour of the new EA, which includes a 10 per cent pay rise over three years.
Lifehouse is a private facility that partners with the neigh-bouring Royal Prince Alfred public hospital.
When negotiations started last year, Lifehouse offered just one improvement to the EA.
Management later improved their offer, but it remained unacceptable and was rejected by a 68-per-cent majority in a secret ballot.
NSWNMA members then conducted a photo campaign in which one in four nurses had their photo taken with signs calling for fair pay and ratios.
Lifehouse took the unusual step of paying a 3 per cent increase during bargaining when it became clear they could not win majority support for the EA as it stood, but needed to address the pay issue.
Successful industrial campaigns for ratios at other private hospitals, and the election of a state Labor government committed to public sector ratios, further strengthened the position of Lifehouse nurses.
Ben Brady, a member of the NSWNMA EA bargaining com-mittee, described the final deal as “a big step up from the original offer” of a 9 per cent pay increase over three years and no ratios.
Ben said early negotiations took place in an atmosphere with “a degree of apathy and poorly attended meetings”.
He added, “However, nurses’ morale improved as the campaign went on and more nurses came forward to join the union.”
He said the example set by private hospital nurses employed by St Vincent’s Health encouraged Lifehouse members to hold out for a better deal.
“We could see they were making headway with their campaign for ratios and pay. We looked at them in admiration and wanted to get something close to what they were achieving.
“With our new agreement we have effectively achieved the same ratios as St Vincent’s Private.”
Lifehouse Agreement – Main Features
- Shift-by-shift nurse-to-patient ratios to replace the nursing- hours-per-patient-day system from January 2024.
- Medical/surgical wards – 1:4.8 excluding in-charge/NUM on morning shift; 1: 4.8 excluding in-charge afternoon shift; 1:8 including in-charge night duty.
- ICU – 1:1 ventilated; 1:2 non-ventilated; 1:3 outlier ICU patients.
- Additional nurses based on acuity.
- Updated reference to ACORN standards.
- AHMs, CNEs, CNCs, CNS2, NUMs and AiNs supernumerary to ratios, unless stated above.
- Skill mix of 75 per cent RNs to ENs.
- In-charge not to be allocated a patient load unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is clinically justified.
- Any ratios already superior to the above will be retained.
- 3 per cent from July 2023
- 4 per cent from July 2024 (a 1 per cent increase on the previous offer)
- $1000 bonus for permanents (pro rata for part timers)