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Nurses dig in over RDNS service changes

Victorian nurses are calling on the state’s Royal District Nursing Service to stage the introduction of its new services model over a longer time period and are demanding a range of guarantees for any staff the changes affect.

The demands come after the RDNS  announced last year it would be overhauling its services use modern technologies and professional methods better as it handles an increasingly ageing population.

As Nursing Review reported last year, the new model will involve teams of two RNs and two enrolled nurses and assistants working in one specific area of the community.

At the time of the announcement, RDNS Victoria general manager Fiona Hearn said demographic changes, combined with reform in the primary healthcare and aged-care sectors, as well as a rise in chronic disease, had led to the development of the new model of care. However, the Victorian arm of the ANMF has expressed concern that the changes will lead to as many as 84 redundancies by the end of April. The federation also believes the service model change will affect about 150 employees.

In an open letter to RDNS chief executive Stephen Muggleton, ANMF Victoria acting secretary Paul Gilbert requested greater detail on how the new service model was devised and chosen as well as on how the reforms would probably affect patient care.

In his letter, Gilbert requested that no changes to staff roles or overall numbers be made until a consultation process “satisfactorily resolves all matters related to the proposed change".

Gilbert requested a response from the RDNS to the range of professional and workplace-related demands included in his letter in writing by the end of this week.

Nursing Review is seeking further comment from the RDNS. In a statement late last week, Hearn reiterated the need for the existing service model to be updated in order to create a “modern operating environment that better supports the work of our frontline nursing and care staff”.

“RDNS's operating structure has essentially been unchanged for more than 30 years,” she said. “For example, the current structure pre-dates even the fax machine, and dates from a time when nurses had to drive into an office to receive a paper client list and schedule. Now all of that can be delivered instantly via tablet computer, meaning time once spent on driving can now be spent providing patient care."

Hearn added that the RDNS would continue to meet regularly with the ANMF “as is the normal procedure when introducing major changes such as this, and continues to have constructive discussions”.

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