Legislative Council, Thursday 16 November 2023
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
With regard to the North West Private Hospital transition to the Tasmanian Health Service for maternity services:
1. I understand there is still no service agreement or lease agreement in place between the parties to enable service delivery continuity a month away from the Transition date. What does this mean from a ward/clinical care and service delivery perspective?
2. I understand NWPH currently operates the maternity service with FTE of 23 and this has required backfilling with agency staff at considerable levels for some time and I understand the THS has identified that an FTE of approximately 60 staff will be required, meaning the service could be in excess of 150 unfilled shifts for the first roster post transition.
a. How many staff are currently:
i. expected to transition to the new service;
ii. have agreed to transition to the new service; and
iii. how many of these are senior midwives;
b. If all staff do not transition how will the THS ensure the required number of senior staff are rostered to lead the process and support junior staff;
c. What support will be available on day 1 to support the junior/new grads/agency/students who will be expected to fill the unfilled shifts;
d. How will the recruitment of student midwives be managed at the proposed numbers to ensure they are provided with a quality learning experience and environment; and
i. Have discussions with all relevant universities been undertaken;
e. Noting the lengthy recruitment process within the THS will adequate numbers of permanent and/or agency staff be recruited by December 4;
f. What support will be provided to junior staff who will be required to take on in-charge positions; and
g. Who will cover the current hospital After Hours Manager role; and
i. Will THS after hours managers be physically present at the NWPH site when needed?
1. Representatives of the Department of Health and HealtheCare, with the support of the Crown Solicitor, have been working together to terminate the existing maternity service arrangements and document future arrangements. The commercial terms are currently being finalised and the Department is confident the documents will be executed in the coming weeks, ahead of the transition date. There is no expectation of impact to service delivery.
a. All existing maternity ward staff including senior midwives have indicated that they would like an offer of employment sent for consideration. However, the total number of FTE transitioning will not be confirmed until staff accept their offer of employment. These offers of employment were based on individual discussions with staff and have been distributed as of November 1.
b. Roster development is well advanced and will be assessed against the number of staff who take up the offer to transfer, the number of available locum staff, new graduates, and students with support provided by the Midwifery Unit Managers, educators, and other experienced senior staff, such as experienced Midwives and Associate Midwifery Unit Managers.
c. The service will be supported by the Midwifery Unit Managers, educators, experienced midwives, and Associate Midwifery Unit Managers. A needs analysis will be undertaken once the transferring staff are confirmed to better understand and plan for the appropriate practice support for less experienced staff.
d. North West Maternity has maintained its student numbers over many years. This will be maintained post transition with planning for additional students to occur when appropriate ensuring a quality learning experience and environment is maintained.
i. Yes, discussions with relevant universities have occurred with a focus on ensuring the students are provided a good environment and a quality learning experience.
e. The North West Private Hospital like other services has experienced vacancies for some time, despite a range of recruitment initiatives. Agency recruitment has commenced, and the Department of Health has been working closely with maternity ward staff employed by the North West Private Hospital to establish transfer arrangements. This is supported by legislation that was passed by the Tasmanian Parliament in September and guided by the People Strategy that was developed for this project.
The public sector EBA was agreed by nursing and midwifery unions in mid-October with position salaries now competitive with other jurisdictions eliminating recruitment barriers related to salaries and conditions. It is anticipated with this EBA package, coupled with service stability and career opportunities for midwives will be a positive recruitment and retention strategy.
f. Consideration of staff members taking in charge responsibilities would be based on their experience and capability. The ‘in charge’ role is a key responsibility of the managerial or supervisory roles such as the Midwifery Unit Manager, the Associate Unit Manager as well as the Grade 4 roles. The service will also be supported by the After-Hours Nurse Manager role that currently operates at the North West Regional Hospital.
g. The After-Hours Nurse Manager will cover this role. The role of the After-Hours Nurse Manager is to coordinate, facilitate and communicate with various wards. This role will continue to provide this service.
i. After hours nurse managers attend various wards when required.