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Safe staffing inquiry underway.

The Committee of Inquiry into Safe Staffing and Healthy Workplaces is underway, with the first meeting held late last month.

The inquiry was an outcome of negotiations for the national district health boards (DHB) multi-employer collective agreement (MECA). It was to be established within two months of the MECA ratification and achieved that deadline. The independent chair of the committee of inquiry has not yet been agreed.

NZNO has four representatives on the inquiry: president Jane O'Malley; chief executive Geoff Annals; industrial adviser Glenda Alexander; and member representative Jane Lawless. Lawless was NZNO's representative on the Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC). Her three-year term expired in March. An emergency department nurse at Waikato Hospital, she is currently on a year's career break but is returning to Waikato Hospital in a nursing role within the next few months. Lawless was nominated by the Midlands Regional Council and the College of Emergency Nurses NZNO. She believes her Long experience as an emergency nurse, her work when chair of the college in developing staffing guidelines for New Zealand emergency nurses and her three years on HWAC, particularly on a subcommittee looking at health workplace environments, are her credentials for the role of member representative. "This is a fantastic opportunity. This has been elevated to a committee of inquiry and the resources and commitment by both parties means it is our very best shot at achieving safe staffing. Safe staffing is the twin to fair pay and it is work to which we must find an answer." Lawless said the fair pay settlement provided professional recognition for nurses and was not a "pay off for a poor working environment. The hardest and most destructive thing for nurses is not being able to do their job and no amount of money makes up for that."

Lawless encourages nurses to make submissions to the committee of inquiry as it travels around the country. "Nurses need the chance to tell their stories--to tell it like it is. I would really encourage nurses to take that opportunity." The committee was scheduled to meet early this month and will meet every two to three weeks thereafter. Its work must be finished by July next year, or earlier if practical.

The other working parties arising from the DHB MECA are well underway and confident they will meet the July 1, 2005 deadline contained in the MECA. The member representatives on the health care assistants/hospital aides working party are: Thelma Jarvis (Counties Manukau DHB); Ian Stevenson (West Coast (DHB); Hilary Dixon (Canterbury DHB); Jenette Thomson (Waikato DHB); and Cath Hellyer (Hawke's Bay (DHB). Christchurch-based co-ordinating organiser Chris Wilson is the project leader.

Palmerston North organiser Lyn Olsthoorn, with Auckland organiser Carol Brown are the project leaders for the senior nurses/midwives scoping working party. The member representatives are: Diane Maddock (Hutt Valley DHB); Cath Byrne (Aukland DHB); Jill Henderson (Northland DHB); Jan Seuseu (Otago DHB); and Al McDougall (Canterbury DHB).

The professional development recognition programmes working party is led by professional nursing adviser Susanne Trim and Waikato organiser Jenny Dorrian. It consists of groups of members at each DHB, plus five midwifery members working as a reference group.
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS; Committee of Inquiry into Safe Staffing and Healthy Workplaces
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:May 1, 2005
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