Aged care Enrolled Nurses remain in limbo, union says

ANMF Tas Branch Secretary, Emily Shepherd

Enrolled Nurses working across Southern Cross Care Tasmania’s (SCCT) aged care facilities have been facing redundancy for months after the not-for-profit provider announced plans to axe ENs from its roster and replace them with care workers.

While SCCT has now conceded its consultation process was flawed and will delay the transition until late February, ENs remain in limbo as they grapple with losing their jobs, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF Tasmanian Branch).

The union attended a Fair Work Commission conciliation meeting last Thursday regarding Southern Cross Care Tasmania’s plans to introduce a ‘Household Model of Care’, that will see ENs across its nine nursing homes made redundant or redeployed into other roles. At the meeting, SCCT management conceded that their consultation process was flawed and, based on the amount of feedback; they will move to recommence the process.

SCCT noted that they had identified more alignment between the Enrolled Nurse role and a non-nursing, wellness coordinator role, opening up more positions for re-deployment, the union says. It also noted that they would be increasing registered nurse (RN) hours across all facilities.

Despite the developments, the ANMF says ENs are still experiencing a heavy toll.

“Whilst this concession validates members concerns, it does not ameliorate the distress and concern that the Enrolled Nurses at every Southern Cross Facility around the state is currently experiencing, and the anticipation that they will still be made redundant after another round of consultation,” ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary, Emily Shepherd said.

“Upon questioning by ANMF officials, SCCT conceded that the same number of positions were still available for redeployment, despite their alignment, and that they were only increasing registered nurse minutes to meet the upcoming legislative aged care reforms, of 200 care minutes by October 2023.”

Southern Cross Care indicated that they would delay any final decision on the proposal until Monday 27 February 2023, followed by a period of transition. Yet, the union considers the move just another delay tactic to meet industrial requirements.

“If SCCT actually took on board the feedback from staff, residents and families as well as the Federal Health Minister that the removal of Enrolled Nurses from SCCT is not supported, then rather than run a further consultation process they would scrap the proposal entirely and focus on supporting a nursing and care workforce that is haemorrhaging at a rapid rate due to not wanting to work for an aged care employer who doesn’t value its staff and doesn’t understand that it’s nurses and care workers who keep residents safe,” Ms Shepherd said.

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