Media Releases

Dunedin nurses seek staffing solutions

25 February 2014

Around 300 nurses met at Dunedin Hospital yesterday to tell the Southern District Health Board’s (DHB) chief executive Carol Heatly and executive director of nursing Leanne Samuel of their serious concerns about staff shortages and the impact of staff shortages on patient care. The meeting was called by NZNO delegates at Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals.

“The number of nurses who attended is an indication of the scale of the problem and how seriously nurses are taking it,” NZNO’s acting industrial services manager David Wait said.

NZNO members told the DHB leaders that many nurses were working over time, double shifts and having no meal breaks and many part-time staff were working more shifts.

“They made it very clear the staffing crisis was affecting patient care. Some nurses feel they are having to make choices about what care they can provide and what they can’t, and that’s an unacceptable situation for any nurse to be placed in, or any patient to experience,” Wait said.

The Dunedin meeting, the largest nurses’ meeting in the city for a long time, was called against a background of delayed recruitment of staff who leave, the re-opening of some previously closed beds without enough staff and more people presenting at the emergency department.

NZNO’s associate professional services manager Hilary Graham-Smith said nurses wanted to be heard and must be heard when they had concerns about patient care. “Nurses are the DHB’s biggest workforce and want to be part of the solution to staffing problems. They must be included in any discussions about how staffing problems are to be resolved. If nurses and managers can work together and agree on a plan to solve the problem, then the outcomes will be better for patients, nurses and the DHB,” she said.

A meeting of NZNO delegates is scheduled for next Monday, March 3, and delegates are wanting DHB management to present a draft plan, which includes nurses and NZNO, for dealing with the staffing crisis.

The staffing crisis was most acute at Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals but there were staffing difficulties across the DHB, Wait said.

Posted in: Safe Staffing

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