Red  Cross  Blood  Service  hires  ‘cheaper’  workers

LOCAL nurses are missing out on jobs through the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS), with the organisation hiring less-skilled applicants and training them in-house.

The Courier understands Donor Service Nursing Assistants (DSNAs) have been gradually replacing nurses across Victoria over the past three years.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal assistant secretary Annie Butler said a move to the “cheaper” option posed a risk to the welfare of blood donors.

“What our members are telling us is that they’re being refused shifts and, in some cases, donor assistants are being hired instead of them,” she said. “It’s been a struggle for some time now.”

Ms Butler there were thousands of unemployed nursing graduates across Australia.

“They (ARCBS) say they can’t employ new graduates because they can’t offer them the breadth of experience they need,” she said.

“We struggle to believe it’s anything other than it’s a cheaper workforce.”

Ms Butler said assistants were carrying out more invasive procedures like “needling-in” in at centres throughout Australia.

“They (ARCBS) are getting these people to do things that we don’t think they should be doing,” she said. 

“If they (donor assistants) don’t know the full extent of what they’re doing, how do they have capacity to solve it if it goes wrong?” 

ARCBS public affairs officer Erin Lagoudakis said hiring DSNAs was designed to address a projected shortfall in nurses across Australia by 2025. 

“To help address the skills challenges we face, the Blood Service introduced nursing assistants in 2010,” she said.

“They are comprehensively trained to support nursing staff on the donor centre floor, ensuring donor comfort and safety.”

Ms Lagoudakis said a pilot project in WA, NSW and the ACT that allowed assistants to conduct whole blood donations was a success and had no impact on donor or blood product safety. 

william.vallely@fairfaxmedia.com.au