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New rota system angers nurses

A new rota system that is being trialled in York Hospital has caused outrage among nurses.

Claims that the electronic system will make it impossible to organise childcare have been dismissed by health bosses, who warn that “some staff will need to be more flexible with their working patterns”.

But nursing unions have spoken out about the trial, which will last for four weeks on a number of wards, claiming that staff should have been consulted about the changes.

A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said: “The new rotas will affect frontline nurses, especially those with young families or carer responsibilities. Staff are suddenly faced with having to re-juggle their busy working lives and family commitments with little or no notice.

“This is unreasonable and staff are rightly upset. The RCN will be contacting the trust urgently.”

One member of nursing staff said: “The changes take effect on 16 October. No consultation has taken place with the nurses or unions about these changes.

“Before this, most nurses chose shifts that fitted their child care arrangements, for example nights only or weekends only. Wards allowed a few changes per month to nurses.

“This e-shift system does away with all this, thereby causing a lot of hassle for nurses and their respective nursery or childminders.”

Following a meeting between union representatives and York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust, a joint statement was issued saying the new system was used in a majority of trusts because it “enables more efficient rostering of staff as well as less nursing time spent on the creation of rotas”.

The trust said: “The system is being rolled out and to date over 1,300 staff in the trust have their rotas created using the e-rostering system. The trust is undertaking a four-week review with three wards which have been using e-rostering for some time.”

Read more

Patients ‘endangered by shift work’ 

Readers' comments (67)

  • It seems there needs to be a balance between the employers expectations of staff, and the work-life balance of the staff group affected by the change.

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  • This story breaks in the middle of National Work-Life Week...

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  • Would e-rota cover short notice sick leaves!!!!! Once again these office bound managers cant stop themselves.
    They need robots not nurses.

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  • The only poor aspect of this article, is the lack of sufficient consultation.

    As a Registered Nurse in Learning Disabilities, who manages a team of 8 support staff, managing the needs of the service and that of the team is a major issue.

    However, as with all people (nurses, care staff, other health care professionals and employees) we all chose to work in services that provide health and social care needs over a 24 hour period.

    As such, don't the needs of the people that we care for and support come first??? The dictating of hours that people are prepared to work is unacceptable.To many nurses complain of insufficient time to do paperwork i.e. rotas and are always complaining of poor working environments and lack of staff.

    This new rota system would surely provide regular and adequate staff provision throughout the working week, ensure fair amount of unsocial hours are shared amongst staff and would meet the needs of the ward.

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  • The current 'self rostering' system still widely in use in many wards and departments, seemed to discriminate against those without commitments. It always seemed to be the same nurses with no children that were made to work christmas and struggled to get any annual leave during school holidays. Roll out this e-rostering nationwide. Lets have some equality..

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  • I am glad that I have retired from nursing apart from doing the odd night as a bank nurse to help out.The duty rotas are night mere and you can't please everyone. Some nurses prefer to work either early,late or nights. The self rostering system is not a very good system especially if there is luck of communication between the staff and you will find the selfish ones who put themselves first without considering their colleagues. You have to work as a team communicate all the time.

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  • The eroster system is no different from my earlier years nursing, and many others i am sure, we accepted what the Sister gave us to work with no question, only asked for a day off it was an absolute emergency and swapped with our colleagues if we needed.
    This is just another example of people not accepting change.
    I actually think that there are a vast majority of people who have taken the term 'flexible working' to an extreme. if they stopped asking for requests that were not urgent and let the system run they would probably find that duty was done far enough in advance (giving the unsocial hours out fairly among staff and weekends off fairly too), that they would have plenty of time to arrange their child care or care of elderly parents.
    And as long as they hours worked in the work were still what you are contracted to their would be no problem with swapping shifts with a work mate.

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  • what has happened to Improving Working Lives (IWL), if it existed in the first place?

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  • This is the other reason I hate working in the UK and want to get out.

    Child care providers operate from 9-5 (or 8-6 if you are lucky) Monday through Friday. There is no such thing as child care that is available during ward Nurses' shifts in the UK.

    The hospital I worked in across the pond had 24/7 childcare for nurses including school transport and a sick children's section so that you didn't need to miss work if your kid had a little cold or something.

    My husband is on his final warning from work because everytime I work an early he has to go in late to take the kids to school and nursery. Everytime I am on a night shift he is late for work because he has to take the kids to school and nursery. Everytime I am on a late shift he has to leave work early to pick up kids.

    He uses all of his annual leave for this. His parents are dead, my parents are in america and we have no relatives nearby.

    If we left our autistic 9 year old home alone with our 3 year old for any length of time we would probably be arrested.

    Why can't the UK have decent child care coverage or at least pay RNs enough to be able to afford a Nanny like America and Canada?

    I cannot wait to get the hell out of here.

    And by the way, despite having kids, I always work christmas and BANK HOLIDAYS and I am happy to do so. At least that my husband is always off on national holidays and can look after the kids.

    I would apply for a job that doesn't involve shift work BUT THERE AREN'T ANY for Nurses.

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  • It seems to me that too many people now feel that they can dictate the hours they work to suit themselves and their childcare arrangements, which is fine for them, but it is their colleagues who have to pick up the slack and work the nights and weekends. As a ward manager I am completely fed up with people trying to tell me they can't work this or that day. It makes doing a duty roster a complete nightmare. However flexible working does not have to be agreed if it does not meet the need of the service, so compromise is needed on the part of the employee wanting to work to fit around their children. After all it is a 24/7 service, patients need their needs met all the time. If you don't want to take your share of the unpopular shifts, then don't work in nursing. Or get a job somewhere like outpatients.

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  • Where I work e rostering has been according to managers working for almost a year now.When asked none of the people who have their shifts rostered by it think this! As a part time worker the requests i make have been reduced from 3 to 2 per month although i have not reduced my hours this is pro rata they tell me. However my weekends working have not been pro rata for the last 2 months i have been rostered to work 1 shift every weekend apaarently this is ok because it is only 1 shift!!!!!!!! Ruler always appear to work 1 way..........

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  • mmm... lets just get rid of all those nurses that have children or other care obligations!

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  • Thank you to Anonymous | 29-Sep-2010 7:31 pm. Obviously a ward manager who cares deeply for their staff. Heaven forbid that they forced to manage a rota!

    Maybe this manager would rather people who had children, gave up work and stayed at home like good little mothers/fathers.

    Personally, I am more fed up with ward managers brandishing the off duty like a weapon with which to punish their staff.

    The bigger picture must be that if numbers of nurses employed on wards were comparable with those in the US or Australia or elsewhere, we wouldn't have this issue.

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  • We are currently piloting the e.roster system. We have also had family friendly working reduced. Self rostering has worked perfectly well for years. Many staff are stating that they will simply reduce their hours if the new system comes in permantly, so rather than allegedly enhancing patient care it will have the opposite effect. Rather than trying to juggle family and work commitments or pay through the nose for childcare I have applied for a lower paid, but a bit more flexible job outside of nursing altogether.
    Robo Rota may churn out off duty to the delight of the management but it will be will substancially less staff working hours.

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  • I have worked as a charge nurse/clinical nurse leader in the UK,Germany and NZ. The best system was an e -system used in Germany that was posted 1 month in advance and allowed for up to 5 shift changes with another person.It collected data to ensure that all staff had equal access to annual holidays such as Xmas, but offered a cash bonus to those who wished to work when planned. THis allowed those with children to take the extra leave and those without to make more money working over these times.
    So i think an e- system is good- just has to be the right one...

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  • we have been using the e-rostering for a year now and it has worked well. the ward manager has to have the rota done 6 weeks in advance. she sets a date that requests have to be in by( we are allowed 5 every month). when it comes to the xmas rota she leaves those 2 weeks up on the board and staff put down what they are able to cover.staff know they are required to do either the xmas or the new year and no annual leave is permitted. and yes we have staff with children. they came into the profession knowing it was a 24 hour rota

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  • It has been very difficult managing 2 children with working full time. However, because of this I choose to work as a Bank Nurse therefore I choose what shifts I work.

    It is not fair that those of us with children have all the school holidays off and those without have to work them.

    If you don't like what is being given to you leave and join the bank. Easy!

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  • We have moved on to e rostering and the shifts it churns out are a nightmare!!

    I have just done a 58 hour week of long days with random nights thrown in here there and everywhere and now I am on a 42 hour week. It is annualised hours gone mad. It thinks we are automatons!!!

    I tell you after this I am suffering from compassion fatigue as well as being knackered!!!

    Oh well we must embrace change musn't we!!!

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  • Now i sympathise with nurses who have children..i really do.

    When i worked on the wards...the single nurses were given all the anti-social shifts and dodgy hours. The 'family' nurses were 'accomodated'.

    Total discrimination! It's about time all nurses on wards had a fair crack of the whip and a share of the worst shifts..it is only fair......if you've got kids then tough bloody luck! Your choice.

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  • well I have worked in the health service since 1978 I worked pemanent night duty for years when my kids were small because there was little childcare provision or it was far too wxpensive. this new rota system would not work in all areas. e.g. I currently work in a busy cardiac icu where situations change by the hour some days. nurse in charge spends the majority of her working day counting numbers and arranging staff according to beds and skill mix. I'd say it would be enough to send the e system into overdrive. As for nurses with children and family commitments of course they should be accommodated after all they are much more likely to turn up for their shifts and to payback the accommodation when the need arises. A happy staff is key to smooth running any good employer will agree.

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