Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nurse, get a bucket

I don't want to be hung nor quartered by any nurse or ex nurse readers, so you won't be hearing about lazy, incompetent or overpaid nurses from me. In fact every nurse I have come across has been the opposite. Some just do their job competently, and we should not expect more, but some just go the extra miles and they are not rare.

Of course not being a nurse leaves me a little uninformed about their present industrial situation, but I have never found ignorance a reason to keep my gob shut.

In industrial relations matters it usually boils down to two basic matters, and they are the two that are problematic for almost all employees, pay and conditions. Leaving out that most of us we like to see better pay and conditions for nurses, there is one further dimension.

The nurses fought for and won quite some time a patient to nurse ration of four to one. This is now under threat. Management are using what has become a very evil word, flexibility. Sound it out with me, flex-i-bil-it-y. When management use this word, especially if they start adding detail about employees who want more flexible hours to care for their sick children, then start running for the hills. It's all bad.

Now, I expect there could well be a valid argument that some patients might need less care than others and the ratio could be flexible. In an ideal world, perhaps that could be allowed. But I would never trust the government, the health department and least of all hospital management to use the power to adjust the ratio on an as needs basis and do so responsibly and without taking advantage of nurses and reducing patient care.

There were very good reasons why nurses fought for and won the nurse patient ratio, and nothing has changed. If anything over the past decade or so, management has become worse in ways to do their staff down. And god knows, there is certainly enough management. I liken it to removing ice from the bottom of an iceberg and sticking the bits on top of the 'berg. At some point, the iceberg will turn over.

You may not care too much about nurses pay and employment conditions, but one day you will, the day when you are at their mercy. The nurse/patient ratio must stay.


  1. I agree the Nurse/Patient ratio must remain the same. From my experience working in the public sector flexibility only works one way, managements way :-).

  2. The iceberg analogy is a good one. The government is providing shock horror examples to Fair Work of people being kept waiting. To this The Other says she "lay in a hospital corridor going through a heart attack that could have been prevented if there were enough beds... at a time when nurses were NOT striking".

    Ted has confused the concepts of cost cutting and productivity gains. Some things - as any primary carer knows - simply cannot be measured in dollar terms.

  3. Agree wholeheartedly, even though I have a friend's father who is currently in hospital and suffering through the shortages. Your take on the management use of 'flexibility' is both sadly very true and very, very frightening.

    I hope that they stick it out and that members of the public - even those who might be inconvenienced - understand and support them.

  4. I agree.
    Flexibility reminds me of multi-tasking. They mean whatever management wants them to mean.

  5. Vested interest decleration, I am "management" in my job although not of a hospital so I have no idea what a nurse to patient ratio should be.

    However what I do know is that management is often charged with balancing a lot of competing interests, so the maintenance of the ration maybe at the cost of more operations or some such. When you pick out a single issue it is seldom that simple from "managements" position.

    As to the idea that there are too many managers, that may be true to but if it is anything like here that is in response to a zero tolerence to risk that we seem to have these days. The less risk you are willing to take the more rules you have and more process and auditor types etc, in other words lots more "useless" management types with clipboards etc, instead of useful doctors and nurses.

    Finally as to management speak, I agree it is a terrible affliction that should be banned. I don't bother personally. If I think you are surplus to requirements for whatever reason I simply tell you. Doesn't always make me a new friend but people tend to respect honesty at least.

  6. Windsmoke, not exactly being twenty year olds, we have learnt what you say from experience.

    FruitCake, I expect a barrage of propaganda, mostly from management and government. Not sure about you, but I don't want our health system and hospitals on the edge of being constantly in crisis.

    Kath, the public tend to side very much with nurses. As I said, it will be us all one day and I don't want a nurse bitter at her employer nursing me.

    Ah Rubye, there is a term here called multi skilling, which means having less people do the same amount of work.

    BDT, I am sure you are a good manager. Rules, auditing etc is something that did not immediately come to my mind, but it is a valid point. Trouble is when I come across an honest and or sincere boss, I am too embittered by past experiences to appreciate them.

  7. oh I support those nurses, I had some amazing care from them when I was in hospital last year. I think the hot one I had a crush on should get a big payrise ;)

  8. The one that gave you a soothing sponge bath Fen?

  9. ha ha is that what you call it these days :P