28 Sep 2017

Staffing issues affecting safe practice - South Akl nurses say

From Checkpoint, 5:10 pm on 28 September 2017

A survey obtained by Checkpoint with John Campbell says 98 percent of 272 nurses at Counties Manukau DHB say they have experienced short-staffing and 93 percent felt they had reached the limits of safe practice.

Yesterday, Checkpoint revealed Counties Manukau DHB will offer some staff - including clinicians - voluntary redundancies, according to a leaked letter from the chief executive.

The survey by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation asked staff whether they experienced short staffing in their ward or team. Of the 272 who answered, 267 said 'yes'.

A union member told John Campbell nurses said they were going home and felt their jobs were not being done as well as members would like. Nurses who spoke to Checkpoint said the shortage was national, not limited to Counties Manukau.

Another survey question asked whether nurses had reached the limits of safe practice and, of the 264 who answered, 246 said 'yes'.

"We are constantly running over 100 percent occupancy," one nurse said.

Another said: 

"We are often short staffed, on some shifts we have more bureau staff working than our rostered nurses," another nurse said. Bureau staff refers to additional staff, or temporary cover.

Minutes from a DHB meeting on 2 August, which contains a finance and corporate business report for May, say net nursing costs were $2.6m "unfavourable" year to date.

Doctors and nurses who spoke to Checkpoint said they did not believe voluntary redundancies were the answer.

No-one from the DHB or the Ministry of Health was available.