In May the Ministry of Health proposed to create a new classification: Assistants in Medical Radiation Sciences.
This proposal was an ill-informed attempt to address staff shortages caused by COVID-19. Here’s what it included:
Create a new classification for Assistants in Medical Radiation Sciences
Recruit third and fourth-year Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Diagnostic Radiography) and (Nuclear Medicine) students as casuals for 12 months.
Pay these students at 75% of the applicable Medical Radiation Scientist (Diagnostic Radiographer) Level 1 rate.
Require current MRS staff to supervise students.
HSU members knew that this proposal was problematic on a number of fronts. Concerns included:
It would require MRS staff to supervise students without additional time or payment, leading to an increase in workload at the same time as reducing productivity.
It would create a risk to patient safety as students had not yet completed their studies.
Students would be exploited, both by being paid at 75% of the appropriate rate and because of their precarious employment as casuals. This would undermine the wages of fully qualified staff.
This proposal is not a real solution to the staffing crisis.
HSU members came together to make sure this proposal was not implemented. The HSU attended meetings with the Ministry of Health and put to management the serious concerns held by members.
And HSU members won. The Ministry of Health will no longer proceed with this proposal.
The HSU has requested the Ministry of Health to engage in open discussions with the Union and explore a long term and sustainable solution to understaffing issues in NSW Health.
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