Media Releases

Patients suffer when staffing levels are insufficient

21 November 2013:

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says the Serious Adverse Events report released today is a good way of learning from mistakes to improve the overall safety of healthcare delivery in New Zealand. The report demonstrates that there must be the right number of skilled and qualified nursing staff on duty at all times to prevent patients dying or suffering a serious adverse event while in hospital.

NZNO professional nursing adviser, Kate Weston says, “NZNO is concerned about the large increase in serious events reported; since 2009/10 patients falls have increased by 94.6 percent, medication errors are up 41 percent and serious pressure injuries have increased from one or two to nine. These are red flags that point to insufficient staffing.”

“Although the report says it’s only an increase in reporting that explains such large jumps in serious incidents, NZNO questions that. The message that there must be the right number and skill mix of nursing staff to meet the care needs of patients is still not getting through to managers and decision makers in some areas.”

“Staffing numbers just don’t add up,” says Weston, “The increase in nursing positions over the past four years is 4.4 percent. Patient numbers have increased by 16 percent - a fourfold deficit in nurses to patients. Sadly, this report shows the results of insufficient nursing staff.”

“We hear every day from nurses who are distressed because they are simply unable to give the level of quality care patients need. Our safe staffing campaign CarePoint is striving to ensure that DHBs do meet their obligations to keep both patients and staff safe.”

“All DHBs must provide the right number of staff with the right knowledge and skills, in the right place at the right time. That is the only way to prevent serious adverse events and ensuring high quality safe patient care.” Weston states.

Posted in: Safe Staffing

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