THE “biggest concern” for nurses hit by the Royal District Nursing Service’s proposed staff shakeup is the possible negative impact on patient care.
The organisation last week announced it would close its Frankston offices in Beach St in April and likely close its Rosebud offices in Cairns St. They are among 14 suburban offices whose functions will be consolidated into four regional hubs – with the closest to Frankston and the peninsula being at Moorabbin (‘Nursing service cuts staff’, The Times 2/2/15).
The revamp will result in six nurses losing their jobs at Rosebud as well as two admin staff and one domestic staffer. Six G3 nursing positions will be downgraded to G2. Frankston staff cuts are unknown.
Nurses are also concerned they will be redeployed from specialist nursing roles into more generalised positions, on lesser wages, and into different geographical areas to which they currently work.
They are unhappy their request that the RDNS maintain its workforce status quo “until we resolve all matters related to the proposed changes” was denied.
But a RDNS spokeswoman said no frontline nursing staff would be affected by the relocation of administrative functions to the new regional hubs.
Queries about staffing changes had been “communicated directly with service users, including a letter to all of our clients and a telephone hotline”.
The spokeswoman said improved technological tools for home-visiting nurses would “enhance the high standard of care that our clients receive in their own homes.”
She said it was incorrect to say RDNS offices were “being replaced by mobile teams equipped with laptops to make house calls”.
“The service was set up 130 years ago to provide nursing in people’s houses: that’s what it has always done, and will continue to do.
“The only thing that has changed is that front-line staff are being assigned into new care teams focused on smaller geographic areas, and also the relocation of administrative functions to four new regional hubs.”
A rival in-home-care company last week criticised the RDNS cuts, saying the need and demand for local offices was greater than ever “and for the RDNS to be putting technology ahead of patient health is a disgrace”.
Prestige Inhome Care CEO Nick McDonald, which has offices in Mornington, said the level and availability of personal, face-to-face, quality interaction would be “drastically reduced as companies like RDNS try to further expand and adopt technology and forget about those they are servicing”.
“The RDNS may argue that adopting technology and closing local offices is the way of the times and more efficient, but how do you explain this to the sick, elderly man or the young woman sick with cancer who looks forward to this personal interaction/care service in their home.
“This could be the one thing that is helping to keep them alive.”
The registered nurse and community care expert works in the same industry, but says he is “part of a growing movement towards in-home/community care support for that personal, quality and reliable level of care”.
“We are actually expanding our services and adding nurses and adding offices throughout Melbourne and Victoria as we genuinely value the care of our patients/clients over expensive expansion and technology innovations,” he said.
“We are open to discussing taking on some of these nurses that have lost their jobs to ensure that patient care is not compromised and we can continue to provide such a vital community service. Just like we continue to put on new directors of nursing – not cut them.”
First published in the Frankston Times