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?”