Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Where Do People Get Off?

I work in Reception at the Emergency Department of our areas main hospital.  This involves doing shift work, which I have done for most of my working life.  We have six shifts that we can work, mornings 0700 – 1630), days (0830-1700), Q (1200- 1830) afternoons (1530-0000) evenings (1800-2300) and nights (2300 – 0700).  There is a stipulation on the number of nights we must work per month relative to the total number of hours we work in a fortnight.  We have been lucky up until now in that a blank roster, baring the night shift where we have one staff member who works a four on four off system constantly, and then we fill in the shifts that we would like to do.  It is meant to work on a fair system where each of us get to work two weekends per four week period, as this is where we get extra penal rates, but we do have one staff member who prefers not to work weekends.  We are also required to have one EFT on leave all the time, or there are not enough hours available to meet our contracts.  I do a mixture of four of the shifts, but as I am not a morning person and never have been, I do not do the morning or day shifts and never have since I started working there.
Our team leader, a newly created position, decided that she would try a different system, as there were many disgruntled staff members over the roster.  She decided to put out a blank roster to each of us and have us fill it in, and when she received them all back she would make up the roster trying to give people what they had indicated.  The gossip goes that she was up till 0300 in tears trying to work it out. Whether this is true or not, we went back to doing it the old way.  The latest roster came out yesterday, and we all received an e-mail saying that she was unable to give everyone the shifts that they had requested.  Okay I accept that, but I got my own e-mail saying
“You will see from the latest roster that I was unable to grant you everything that you wanted to.  I have spoken to MANAGEMENT regarding you wanting to pick up so many shifts in a row, and they are concerned, as am I, that you should have adequate breaks away from the department.  Please feel free to talk to me about this if you would like.”
I have had a Persistent Pain Syndrome for the last eleven years.  It started off as food poisoning which gave me Pericarditis which gives you chest pain, exactly the same pain that goes hand in hand with having angina or a heart attack.  They said to me that within six weeks the pain would go away, funny it is eleven years later and I still occasionally get bouts of the pain.  Eventually they decided that there was not problems with my heart and handed me over to the Pain Management Team who have come up with different treatments and combinations of drugs to control the symptoms, as there is not cure.  As the years have gone by the treatment they have provided have meant that the number of bouts of pain that I get have decreased, to the point that I have gone seven months without any pain at all.  It may not sound a very long time to anyone else but for me it let me lead a somewhat normal life.  There are a few triggers that I have worked out which I try and avoid, but it is not always possible.  I do not enjoy turning up to the department that I work in as a patient, but on one trip the two doctors that were on came up with the idea that maybe the pain could be due to a spasm in my arteries as the Angiograms that I have had show no damage to my arteries or heart.  Starting on a drug that controls these spasms has made a huge difference but I still need to be careful.
Recently the team leader had asked each of use which shifts we preferred, so that she had that information when she was making up the roster, and I carefully explained to her why I chose the shifts that I do. I received another email addressed just to me.  When I received the e-mail if she had been there she might have heard a few words that I very rarely use.  Instead I went home and talked this over with Mr O and made up a reply.
The reply starts “I am very disappointed and annoyed that you chose to discuss this matter with management before approaching me.”  Then there is an explanation about my Persistent Pain Syndrome and why I have chosen the shifts that I have. It ends “I am not asking for special consideration but I would like this to be taken into account, so that I do not always have to work shifts that may impact on my ability to work.  I am tying to avoiding exacerbating the Persistent Pain Syndrome and not being able to work, especially with Michelle hours (she has just gone on maternity leave and worked 60 hours a fortnight) being given to other staff members, leaving us one less person to fill in when anyone is unable to work.

The first e-mail I got back was
 I am sorry that my actions left you feeling this way.  I will contact management and we will arrange a time to sit down together and try to resolve these issues.

I will get back to you with a time.

The second e-mail that I read first
I have scheduled a meeting for 11:30am on Wednesday 1st June, prior to your 12.00 start, with Sarah, Janet and myself, and I would be grateful if you could mark your diary accordingly.

My reply to the second e-mail was that I was unavailable till noon on that date, which is not true but I was being bloody minded.

The third e-mail
That's fine.  On your arrival at 12.00, just come to the CNM's office and we will have the meeting then.

If I had read them in the order they were sent I would have been asking why Janet and Sarah need to be involved in these discussions, as we were both adults and should be able to sit down together and solve whatever problem exists.  It seems to me that three people being needed to discuss their issues could be misconstrued as lop-sided.
So I go back to my original question “Where do people get off?”


  1. If you take Richard with you, there will probably be three immediate openings in management.

  2. Now I know why I am happy to be retired. :^)

  3. You indicated this "Team Leader" position is a newly created one..

    Try to take into consideration that there are many talented and gifted persons in the work force that once they move into a management position are no longer talented or gifted for supervision over others. They sometimes don't have the people skills to be able to handle it well. This may be the case with your new team leader.

    Or she may be scared to make a decision on her own without prior approval of a higher up..these are the worst kinds of managers.

    You will know soon after the meeting starts if this arrangement is not in your best interest.

    All you can really do is make your case for why you choose what you did and if it is not acceptable then you have the right to an explanation as to why it is not acceptable.

    Then you will need to make your own decisions.

    Wishing you the best of outcomes...will keep fingers crossed......

  4. Wishing you good luck with the meeting. I don't think I'd like this situation much either if it were me.

  5. Any time I hear the phrase "Team Leader" my BS meter pegs at max. I don't know in your case if this new leader position is actual doing anything, but from your post it sounds like it's another management zombie that really doesn't do anything except make life more difficult for the worker bees to actually get anything done.

    Couldn't tell from your post if you applied to work a bunch of days one after the other (more than 5 in a row) or a bunch of shifts (more than 8 hours in a row). If it was something like that, my I wonder if someone is worried that letting you do that would increase the chances of you getting overworked and tired and the hospital getting sued.

  6. Hi Mr O
    Unfortunatley it does not appear that he can wangle time off to come to the meeting. It would have been good as he is not at all happy with ED as they took Sophie there on Thursday. The doctor kept insisting that she had possible concussion, but he could not see how a 1 yearold would get concussion if she fell sideways from a sitting position and ended up lying on the floor without hitting her head on anything. She certainly was not her usual happy little self. They took her to their doctor the next day to find that she had an ear infection. I have no idea why the doctor did not check her ears when he was told she had a runny nose and the two tend to go hand in hand. He will be doing his complainig to the hospital again.

  7. Hi Whit
    I wih I was able to retire, but unfortunately can't afford to yet.

  8. Hi TAB
    Yes I believe that some people are promoted to their level of incompetence and this is the case here. I think you will need to keep for fingers crossed for quite some time to come. Thanks

  9. Hi Sherry
    It is definately not a situiation that I am enjoying as things have moved along a bit more. Thank you for your luck, I am going to need a lot of it,

  10. Hi Skinny
    I believe the position was made so that some if not all of the problems that happen in Reception will be taken off his shoulders. I don't believe that he made the best choice out of the candidtes, but that only lasted one day and I thought I would reserve my judgement and see what happened. Some superficial things have changed but not our basic problems with the computer systems that we have to deal with.
    I am contracted to work 32 a week and decided because of my persistant pain syndrome that working three five hour shifts and two eight hour shifts most weeks would be better on my body, so not I don't think I have asked for anything outrageious. Unfortunately here in New Zealand it is very difficult to sue anybody let alone a Government Deparment.