Safe and effective care central to ratified PSA settlement with DHBs

The landmark offer of improved pay and conditions for more than 3000 Mental Health and Public Health nurses, announced last month, has now been ratified by PSA members.

"There are several important aspects of this settlement that make it especially notable for enabling our hard-working members to provide safe and effective care,” says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

“Our members are extremely dedicated, working above and beyond the call of duty to provide health services under frequently difficult and stressful circumstances.

“It is significant that a new clause specifies that, where not already established, PSA and management will meet to agree the minimum numbers of staff needed in each ward / workplace to provide safe and effective care to patients.

“Under this new settlement the issue of workload management is now given the attention it deserves, and specific references are now included to an escalation pathway for mental health and public health in the event of acute staffing shortages,” says Erin Polaczuk.

“This aligns with a commitment to ensuring workloads are reasonable and able to be achieved within an employee’s rostered hours of work.

“Having an escalation process when additional staff cannot be brought in is a sensible measure to protect both workers and patients. Importantly it provides for all incidents of short staffing to be reported and for a PSA delegate to be involved in investigations and corrective measures.

“The PSA appreciated the DHB bargaining team’s formal acknowledgement of our union’s constructive efforts to take us to this point. We are now looking forward to receiving the recommendations of the Mental Health Inquiry panel and much bolder steps towards addressing systemic, longstanding workload and staffing issues at the national level”.

The term of the new Multi-Employer Collective Agreements (MECAs) will be 36 months from the expiry of the previous MECAs, running through to 2020 and with three base salary increases during that term.

Other positive aspects of the settlement include its reinforcement of DHBs’ zero-tolerance policy on violence in the workplace and renewed emphasis on preventing all forms of harassment, as well as increases to on-call allowance payments and a provision for additional leave for research or study.