Monday 14 October 2019
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"Nurses have lost confidence in the States"

Wednesday 15 May 2019

"Nurses have lost confidence in the States"

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned the States that nurses have become disillusioned with their leadership and their "vague promises" to improve working conditions.

RCN Senior Regional Officer Julie Lewers said nurses were unhappy with the progress made since the States approved a strategic reviewing December 2017 of the terms and conditions attached to nursing and midwifery professionals.

An independent review was delivered to the States last December.

“After several months we were hopeful of a solid implementation plan that would enable us to work in partnership with the States to get the best outcome for nurses," said Ms Lewers. "Instead, we get a rushed overview seemingly only released after we threatened to go public, with an equally insubstantial, albeit longer, plan following a week later. 

“The plans are vague with no solid timeframe around delivery and outcomes. Understandably our members are extremely angry around the latest developments. They see it as a slap in the face as well as the final straw in their trust and confidence that their employer is really committed to sorting out nurses pay, terms and conditions. 

“Members are fed up of vague promises from the States. At a recent branch meeting, members told us how a shortage of staff and an increase in workload has led to nurses feeling burnt out and not valued. Our members are regularly working above and beyond their contracted hours to ensure that patients get the best possible care which is admirable, but not sustainable.”

The RCN is asking the States to address three main issues:

  1. Nursing pay. Nurses want a meaningful pay rise that not only keeps up with, but significantly exceeds RPI (cost of living) and will finally bring them in line with colleagues doing similar work across the States as well as across the health sector, giving pay parity for everyone.
  2. Pay, terms and conditions framework. There needs to be a solid framework in place to ensure fairness across the board and to future proof the nursing profession so that nursing on Guernsey is seen as an attractive and viable workplace.
  3. Patient care. There needs to be a robust system in place to ensure safe staffing that will enable safe delivery of care without relying on top-up agency nurses and stretching the goodwill of staff to breaking point.
P&R policy and resources

Policy & Resources is responsible for employment negotiations on behalf of the States, with Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, pictured front, usually the committee's lead member on these matters. 

A spokesman for Policy & Resources spokesperson said they were "really surprised" at the comments from the Royal College of Nursing.

"Our view is that negotiations have been moving forward in good faith. The situation as it stands is that an offer is currently with the RCN.  Our understanding from our most recent communication with the RCN is that it was their intention to ballot their members on that offer," they said. "We are currently attempting to contact the union representative to seek further clarification on their current position and any concerns they have, and hope to continue what has so far been an open and honest dialogue."

A spokesman for Health & Social Care said, having been the committee that brought the strategic review policy letter to the Assembly, they were "eager to ensure that the Policy & Resources Committee, acting as the employer, can reach a successful resolution with the RCN regarding pay, terms and conditions as soon as possible."

"HSC takes patient care and safe staffing levels very seriously. There is a robust system in place to ensure safe staffing levels," they said. "These are reviewed at least twice daily by the senior nurse responsible for the individual operational area. The ratios of registered nurses to patients at the PEH are excellent and are benchmarked against the acuity of patients ensuring all patients receive safe care. HSC ratios of staff to patients are good when compared against hospitals in the UK.  If an area has extra staffing requirements the senior nursing team are notified immediately so that extra staff can be made available to support an area. 

"HSC employs agency nurses so that we can ensure high standards of nursing care. All healthcare providers use agency staff to support their substantive staff. In Guernsey agency staff stay with HSC for several months so they get to know the organisation well and are a valued part of the team to manage demand, deliver specific skills and provide flexibility across our workforce.

"We work with our nursing colleagues to ensure high standards of welfare are maintained and monitor the number of hours they work for us as part of this commitment. We value their flexibility and goodwill which contributes towards supporting excellent nursing care in the Bailiwick."

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