No job but nurse not ‘dis­ad­van­taged’

Dalby Herald - - NEWS -

DAR­LING Downs Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice CEO Dr Peter Gil­lies has told the Dalby Her­ald no staff un­der his watch would ever be dis­ad­van­taged for speak­ing up about safety is­sues.

His state­ment comes as nurse Steven Conn said he didn’t re­ceive a new con­tract af­ter rais­ing gen­uine safety con­cerns.

“I can con­fi­dently say I’m not aware of any in­stance where a staff mem­ber that has gen­uinely spo­ken up around safety is­sues has been dis­ad­van­taged in any way and I’d have zero tol­er­ance for that,” Dr Gil­lies said.

When asked how Mr Conn wasn’t “dis­ad­van­taged” con­sid­er­ing the 41-year-old nurse hadn’t had a shift in more than 12 weeks, Dr Gil­lies said he didn’t want to get into it.

“I’m not go­ing to talk about in­di­vid­ual em­ploy­ees but I will say the Dar­ling Downs does not hold it against some­one; we en­cour­age peo­ple to speak up about safety is­sues,” he said.

“I’m not aware of any in­stance where we’ve dis­ad­van­taged some­one who’s done that .... there’s no reper­cus­sions for staff who do that.”

Mr Conn said he be­lieved he com­pre­hen­sively fol­lowed ev­ery step re­quired by the DDHHS in-house ini­tia­tive Speak up for Safety and wasn’t able to re­ceive a sat­is­fac­tory re­sponse.

Mr Conn said he only came to the Dalby Her­ald be­cause he felt he had been left with no choice, so was con­fused when he heard Dr Gil­lies’ state­ment.

“I have di­rectly suf­fered for speak­ing up for safety,” Mr Conn said.

“I have been de­prived of do­ing the job I love so much and staff feel even more scared of speak­ing up due to my sit­u­a­tion and the way in which it was han­dled.

“It’s a pity I had to sac­ri­fice my em­ploy­ment to get this ball rolling but, if I didn’t do what I did, ab­so­lutely noth­ing would have changed.”

De­spite Mr Conn re­main­ing in the ca­sual pool for the Dalby Hos­pi­tal, he said the fa­cil­ity elected to fill nu­mer­ous un­filled shifts with agency nurses in­stead of call­ing upon him, at greater ex­pense to tax­pay­ers.

Though Mr Conn said he com­mends Dr Gil­lies on im­ple­ment­ing se­cu­rity once more.

“I am ex­tremely pleased Dr Gilles has and is tak­ing pos­i­tive steps to­ward ad­dress­ing the is­sues of safety and con­di­tions for staff at Dalby Hos­pi­tal,” he said.

“I have full con­fi­dence that the sit­u­a­tion will im­prove on both ac­counts and as a con­se­quence the qual­ity and con­sis­tency of the ser­vice it pro­vides to the com­mu­nity will be­come even greater.”

Mr Conn added the well­ness cul­ture check-up was a step in the right di­rec­tion but more could be done.

“The well­ness check-up is a great ini­tia­tive... though re­turn­ing me to the work­force is very im­por­tant for gen­uine heal­ing to oc­cur so that we can all move for­ward.

“I also think the fo­cus on the well­ness of staff is wise and im­per­a­tive at the hos­pi­tal as it is in ev­ery health­care fa­cil­ity.

“In say­ing this, I would like to add that with­out ad­e­quate staffing and fixed nurse-pa­tient ra­tios – in­clud­ing in­cen­tives for staff to prac­tise ev­i­dence-based facets of well­ness such as ex­er­cise, med­i­ta­tion, yoga – the ideal will re­main a slo­gan more than a re­al­ity.”

Mr Conn also showed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sup­port he re­ceived from the town since he came for­ward to tell his story.

“To the great peo­ple of Dalby, I miss serv­ing you and, due to the amaz­ing sup­port you have showed me, I be­lieve you miss hav­ing me there. There are plenty of pos­i­tive things hap­pen­ing and I hope the re­turn of my em­ploy­ment will be one of them.

“I would like to ac­knowl­edge Dr Lotte Ver­hoef, my wife and lo­cal GP.

“With­out her in­sider un­der­stand­ing and amaz­ing sup­port fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally, none of what I’ve been able to achieve would have been pos­si­ble or even fea­si­ble.”

PHOTO: SAM FLANA­GAN

FACE OF SAFETY: Steven Conn has spo­ken for the first time since com­ing for­ward to tell his story.

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