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ED Target stats not a celebration

Media Release                                                                23 August 2017         


Government ED Targets nothing to celebrate

Yesterday, the NZNO College of Emergency Nurses NZ (CENNZ) were outraged to read the Minister of Health claiming the Emergency Department (ED) health targets are a great success when nurses know the discharge and transfer from ED within 6 hours, to meet targets in the context of an underfunded health system, can cost lives and careers.

Associate Professional Services Manager, Hilary Graham-Smith says the targets need to be re-examined and nurses consulted. The higher needs of older New Zealanders, more complexity of need and a couple of particularly bad winters have meant that staff in ED have felt they are compromising quality of care and patient safety and, are facing a staff shortage crisis. (


“The DHBs were underfunded again through Budget 2017 by over $100 million. This results in care rationing, staff burn-out, high staff turnover and ultimately, leads to inadequate care of New Zealanders in our hospitals, Hilary Graham-Smith said.

Chairperson of CENNZ, Rick Forster says he hears that the occupancy of EDs are often well over 100 per cent and says there is additional difficulty admitting patients to the wards due to hospital beds being full.

“When ED’s full we can’t close the doors, so more patients are ending up in corridors. There comes a tipping point where care is rationed and risk of harm increases,” he said.

Backing his statement, Hilary Graham-Smith says, “Extended periods in ED waiting rooms, patients waiting in ambulances and on trolleys in corridors, is not what New Zealanders deserve. Nurses need to be able to provide safe and effective care that is of a high standard, and the time to do that should not be constrained by a national target. The stress of care rationing on nurses is unacceptable to the nursing profession and NZNO.

 “Just last week we read about a Northland man who died because he was moved out of ED to elsewhere specifically to meet the national targets set by the Government when he had a heart condition needing further assessment. This Government target was a contributing factor to a man’s death and trumpeting the targets the following week of this news is inappropriate,” Hilary Graham-Smith said.






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