No job but nurse not ‘disadvantaged’
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.”
FACE OF SAFETY: Steven Conn has spoken for the first time since coming forward to tell his story.