Senior positions saved in restructure
NSWNMA members in the Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD) have mobilised to save senior nursing positions threatened by a proposed management restructure.
Members sought to be involved in discussions over the restructuring plan and obtained major improvements.
The finished plan retains nine of the 12 nurse manager and nurse unit manager positions originally proposed to be deleted.
It also preserves the position of LHD Director of Nursing and Midwifery and several Deputy DON (director of nursing) positions, which were to be abolished.
The Southern NSW district has been under a restructuring cloud since plans were first announced in 2016.
A version released in August 2019 proposed to replace the position of District Director of Nursing and Midwifery with a ‘District Director of Quality, Safety and Patient Experience’.
It also proposed to delete several deputy DON positions and 12 NM (nursing manager) or NUM (nursing unit manager) positions.
Thirty-six other positions were affected by changes to gradings and reporting lines.
Opposition to these changes was led by the Southern NSW Nurse Managers’ Branch of the NSWNMA.
A branch resolution said: “The nursing and midwifery workforce is the largest workforce within the LHD and to remove this (LHD DON) position demonstrates a total disrespect of our profession.”
Branch secretary Mona Timo said the branch decided to mobilise members to provide maximum input into discussions over the plan.
Organising discussions among members was difficult because the LHD incorporates 18 sites, including 12 hospitals, over a wide geographical area.
Southern NSW LHD hospitals include Bateman’s Bay, Bega, Bombala, Braidwood, Cooma, Crookwell, Delegate, Goulburn, Moruya, Pambula, Queanbeyan and Yass.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The Monaro region is very different to the coastal areas and the northern area is different again,” Mona said.
“However, through our branch teleconferences we were able to achieve a fairly united approach by the membership across the LHD.
“The branch was able to collect detailed feedback from members, which was put together with the help of NSWNMA staff. The document summarising the issues from all the sites was very thorough.”
LHD listened to a coordinated response
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, summarised members’ concerns in a letter to the LHD executive.
He said the proposed move away from facility-based nursing management positions and the creation of sector DONs with remote responsibilities for several sites would create gaps in the management structure and impact service delivery.
He added that the erosion of nursing positions and structures would impact staff recruitment and retention.
The LHD agreed to form a consultative committee with the NSWNMA and set up a number of telemeetings for nurse managers.
“It was good that the LHD agreed to have these union-specific discussions and hear our issues,” Mona said.
“The NSWNMA gave strong support to our consultation efforts across the district and meetings were well attended.
“On the whole, our discussions with management were more mature and less antagonistic than in the past.
“Members appreciated the opportunity to discuss their concerns and put forward realistic solutions. That got us over the line; we weren’t negative, we put forward ideas to improve the service.
“On the whole, I think the LHD listened because we got most of the things we asked for.
“Overall, the new structure is a great improvement on the earlier proposal and these gains were achieved by the active involvement of our members.”
Mona said the branch would meet to finalise its views when the LHD provided position descriptions and gradings.
The LHD executive has thanked NSWNMA members for their involvement in the restructuring consultations.
In a letter to the NSWNMA, Jill Adams, District Director People and Wellbeing, wrote: “Thank you again for your and the NSWNMA’s active involvement in the consultation process.”
In a message to staff, District Chief Executive Margaret Bennett said the LHD received more than 982 “pieces of individual feedback” and had input from more than 40 staff meetings across the district.
“I want to thank all staff and the industrial bodies for such an engaging final consultation. It was great to receive so much feedback from across the LHD,” she said.
“All of the feedback and the content of the discussions was carefully considered before finalising the document.”
NSWNMA gains in nursing management revamp
NSWNMA members were heavily involved in consultations and negotiations over the Southern NSW LHD management restructure. In the final plan:
- the position of District Director of Nursing and Midwifery is secured
- Deputy DON positions are secured; the LHD initially wanted to delete some of these positions and have one DON over several sites
- the number of deleted NM and NUM positions has been reduced from 12 to three – two NMs and one NUM
- staff whose positions are to be downgraded or phased out will have their salaries maintained for 12 months
- some NM and NUM positions will be upgraded to reflect their roles and responsibilities
- some positions that require clinical experience and skills and don’t fall directly under the nursing structure will be dual graded to broaden opportunities for nurses/midwives
- nursing/midwifery reporting lines have been strengthened
- the LHD has agreed to working groups to resolve day to day issues.