3 Dec 2018

Mental health nurses say CDHB bosses are ‘out of touch’

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 3 December 2018

Nurses at Hillmorton Hospital say hospital management are "out of touch".

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Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates met with about 50 nurses from the Adult Acute Inpatient Unit at the hospital this morning, following widely publicised assaults on staff over the past week.

This included a stabbing over the weekend, as well as a boiling water attack last week.

While the DHB in a statement said the meeting was "open and honest", nurses Checkpoint spoke to said the meeting was "tense and angry".

Some nurses who attended the meeting told Checkpoint that management were "out of touch" and they were frustrated that no immediate fixes were proposed.

They said they raised the idea of putting more security staff throughout the unit, especially in the high care areas, where the worst assaults often occur.

But management made no commitments to any immediate fix, they said.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe NZ have also demand a meeting with the DHB over this issue.

In a statement it said it requested a similar meeting in April, but that was refused.

"WorkSafe met with H&S reps, Unions and H&S managers in April this year regarding the ongoing issues at Hillmorton," it said.

"WorkSafe [also] sought a meeting with the board which was not accepted."

"As a result of the current concerns we are seeking an urgent meeting with the board and management to advise that risk management at the hospital is not at an acceptable level and must be improved immediately.  This has been accepted and will take place this Thursday."

Burns on a nurse's body after she was attacked by a patient at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch.

Burns on a nurse's body after she was attacked by a patient at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch. Photo: FACEBOOK/ NZ PLEASE HEAR OUR VOICE

Checkpoint has made repeated requests this year to interview DHB management on Hillmorton issues, but this has always been refused.

Usual reasons cited include "back to back meetings".

In a statement published this afternoon, Mr Meates said the meeting today was an "open and honest conversation".

"Our mental health services are under significant pressure and this is impacting not only the care we provide our consumers but the safety of our staff. The service is currently caring for twice the volume of patients than prior to the Canterbury earthquakes with the same number of beds and in inadequate facilities."

"I will be attending another meeting on Friday where a further group of nursing staff will be in attendance, and there will be two additional meetings next week where I will hope to hear from as many Hillmorton staff as possible, as I am keen to hear everyone's ideas on what can be done."

The Nurses Organisation also demanded "urgent" work to be done on this problem.

"We have been speaking out about the safety of nurses and other staff in the workplace for years," said NZNO's John Miller.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to feel scared to go to work because they could be stabbed, burned, beaten, punched or strangled."