Page 3965 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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2010 has been increased by 60 per cent—that, along with the push to fill those spots with permanent staff. The number of full-time equivalents in March was 132. In six months, that has come down to 62. The graduate nurses will start in January. Those two measures, on their own, will reduce the need to rely on agency staff.

We do always manage this on a day-by-day basis. Because of the nature of nursing, we will have times when nurses call in sick or do not show up for work, and those positions have to be filled. So there will always be a role for agency nursing. We do not want it to be as great as it has been in the past and we do not want it to be the first point of call that nurse managers go to if there are other options.

Use of the casual pool and the part-time pool, offering additional shifts, bolstering our own workforce, increasing the number of opportunities for new nurse graduates, I think, is a sensible way and more long-term way of staffing our hospital adequately. But there will always be a role for agency nurses and we work very closely with those agencies. I accept that, when the budgets get tightened, there is some disquiet amongst staff but there is nothing that we cannot work with and resolve.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: A supplementary, Mr Speaker. Minister, can you advise whether this change in policy and the additional turbulence will lead to breaches of the current nursing and midwifery staff union collective agreement, specifically schedules 7 and 8?

MS GALLAGHER: There will be no breach of the certified agreement. Schedules 7 and 8 are the rostering guidelines and the staff resource protocol. Both of those indicate alternatives for staffing the hospital, aside from agency nursing. It is merely reminding, and tightening up the process around approval for the use of agency nurses. It is a significant cost to the hospital budget. I think the biggest unforeseen cost to the hospital budget is the unrestricted use of agency nursing. We simply have to ensure that agency nurses are not the first point of call and that they are one of a range of points of call for nurse managers to fill vacant shifts at the hospital.

Minister for Education and Training

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the minister for education, Mr Barr. Minister, on 26 August, this Assembly directed you to apologise to the Non-Government Schools Education Council and myself for misrepresenting statements made by me. Minister, why did you ignore the direction of this Assembly to apologise and correct the misleading statements that you made?

MR BARR: I responded to this matter in the context of the Assembly debate in the last sitting.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, can you guarantee that you will not use your position as minister to make misleading statements in the future?

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