21 Feb 2018

Akl DHB defends work culture, 'rubs salt in wound'

12:42 pm on 21 February 2018

Midwives at Auckland City Hospital are finding every shift difficult, the Nurses Organisation says.

No caption

Photo: 123RF

Midwives, as RNZ reported this week, say they're over-worked, stressed and unable to provide proper care to mums and babies.

The Nurses Organisation has backed them - saying Auckland District Health Board's (DHB) claim that it was providing an excellent standard was a far cry from what was happening on the wards.

Organisation spokeswoman Carol Beaumont said the DHB's stance had upset some of its members.

"We thought it was utterly inappropriate in the face of staff shortages and poor culture which the College of Midwives had expressed, for the DHB to talk about providing an excellent standard of care for women, babies and their families, it really rubbed salt in the wound for many midwives.

"We know health professionals work incredibly hard to maintain standards, they work hard [in] trying circumstances and at considerable personal cost," Ms Beaumont said.

There was a midwife shortage globally, she said, but Auckland City Hospital was facing a number of other issues.

"Persistent underfunding in health, recruitment and retention problems as well as staff shortages, you mix all of that together and our members are telling us they are finding every shift difficult.

"We have been filtering through concerns to the DHB, the midwives and nurses want to provide the best care they can when they can't because it's beyond their means. It's incredibly frustrating," Ms Beaumont said.

The Nurses Organisation had been working with the DHB.

"Things are serious, day after day our members are working in stressful conditions. It's time we meet with the DHB to see what can be done here and now to make tonight's shift better for midwives."

The Auckland DHB said a midwifery action plan was endorsed by the board and leadership team in April last year.

The midwife shortage and the stress it placed on maternity staff had been a focus for the DHB's management for more than a year.

It said monthly meetings between the DHB, MERAS, The Nurses Organisation and the College of Midwives monitored progress.

"Auckland DHB has been affected by the global shortage of midwives, which has had an impact throughout New Zealand, and was identified as a significant issue for us in 2016.

"Since 2017 we have reduced our maternity service vacancies to 12.4 full time equivalents, have funded 17 extra full-time midwifery positions, and introduced initiatives to support our hardworking midwifery team," it said.

The DHB said it continued to work with union partners and midwifery organisations to further support staff and help grow the midwifery profession in New Zealand.

It said patient safety and quality of care was its top priority and that it reported on 21 maternity clinical indicators to the Ministry of Health.

The DHB said it welcomed feedback from patients to help improve its service.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs