New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 8 September 2021
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation is calling for Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) to urgently change its visitor guidelines to align with other DHBs. This follows the issuing of a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) to ADHB for putting staff and patients at risk for its “free for all” visitor policy.
NZNO organiser Craig Muir says that while Waitematā and Counties Manukau DHBs only permit visitors in maternity, the children’s ward and at end-of-life care, ADHB allows two visitors per patient, who can go to all areas of Auckland City Hospital.
“The visitor policy is nearly impossible to enforce with lax physical distancing, visitors who don’t wear masks properly or when they should, and regularly seeing bubbles mix. It breaches level 4 restrictions and shows ADHB is failing to uphold its legal duty to ensure the highest practicable level of safety for its workers,” says Mr Muir.
“Members are extremely concerned. Even though there’s patient screening, we’ve seen that mistakes can occur like in North Shore and Middlemore with COVID positive patients being around others. Our members know that if the same happens in Auckland with current visitor policies, we could have a real crisis on our hands.”
Alongside the PIN, joint health unions have met with ADHB and Worksafe has issued a compliance order pursuant to s58 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 because ADHB failed to engage with workers. Mr Muir says this can be easily resolved if ADHB responds.
“ADHB needs to look at the clear evidence of best practice, listen to its staff, and urgently amend its policy to align with the other DHBs in the Auckland region.
“Anything less fails to provide adequate public and staff safety and threatens to undo all of the sacrifices of our health workers and the Auckland community.”