Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 346..
(7) How many full-time equivalent nursing positions are currently vacant that cannot be filled;
(8) What is the total budget allocation for nurses for 2007-2008;
(9) Is the nursing budget currently on track.
Ms Gallagher: The answer to the member's question is as follows:
(1) Agency nurses are a contingent staffing resource, they are employed as necessary to cover unplanned leave, surges in demand for services or roster shortfalls when there are no nurses available to cover required staffing levels. Agency use is variable, the average fortnightly agency use for the whole of ACT Health was 49.00 full time equivalents in November 2007:
(a) the average usage of ACT Agencies was 31.08 full time equivalents
(b) the average usage of interstate agencies was 17.92 full time equivalents
(2) (a) interstate agency nurses are currently employed in Ambulatory Care, Medical, Surgical, Women's and Children's and Psychiatric services on contract short term assignment
(b) ACT agency nurses are employed in all clinical areas as required, this may be on a shift by shift basis.
(3) It is difficult to separate the current cost of (a) interstate and (b) ACT agency nurses. The total cost of agency nurses 1 July 2007 to 30 November 2007 is $1,753 million, excluding Calvary Health Care costs. Calvary Health Care ACT expenditure on agency nurses is $868,396.
(4) Within the ACT agencies there are slight variations in the fees charged depending on individual contractual arrangements. There are also different charges for the nurse's level of postgraduate experience and for the shifts worked. There is not a common fee charged.
Most interstate agency usage is associated with the employment of nurse who are qualified or experienced in a specialty area, for example operating rooms, critical care or mental health. Specialty agencies charge more than generic nursing agencies, these agencies are utilised when requisite skill is required and unavailable.
The base rate is comparable for unspecified qualified nursing staff. The cost differential for specialised nursing staff is in the order of $8.00 - $9.00 per hour.
(5) In November 2007, full time equivalent agency use by area was:
Aged Care and Rehabilitation Stream
Ambulatory Care (TCH)
Canberra Region Cancer Stream
Psychiatric Services (Mental Health Stream)
Women's and Children's Health (TCH)
Calvary Health Care utilises casual nurses to meet daily requirements, actual usage by area is not available.