23 Nov 2021

Waitemata DHB seeks 133 new staff to deal with Covid-19 in community

5:29 am on 23 November 2021

Auckland's Waitemata District Health Board is looking for 133 extra staff, including 21 intensive care nurses, to help it cope with Covid-19 next year.

Healthcare people

The new roles include 21 intensive care nurses. Photo: 123rf

The roles are newly created and are on top of the long list of current vacancies. They give an idea of the scale of extra staffing likely needed in hospitals around the country when the virus is in the community next year.

Forty-two of the new roles were for nurses, half of them in intensive care .

College of Critical Care Nurses chairperson Tania Mitchell said that was a lot of ICU nurses to try to recruit when there was already a nationwide shortage.

If the DHB did manage it, the nurses would probably be taken from other areas of the health service, she said.

The Nurse's Organisation said there were already 300 nursing vacancies at Waitemata DHB and 1000 across Auckland's three DHBs combined.

The union's acting nursing and professional service manager, Kate Weston, said while ICU was important, the majority of Covid cases were cared for at home.

"We also have concerns about... needing to ensure the workforce in the community is able to cope with what is going to be a significant surge after Christmas."

However, it was good to see the DHB preparing for the fact there would be more demand next year, she said.

Modelling showed there would potentially be dozens of hospitalisations a week in Auckland in 2022 when Covid-19 was in the community, with hospitals needing to also do all their usual work.

Among the other new Waitemata roles were lab workers, health care assistants, social workers and administration staff.

The recruitment figures came from Wednesday's board meeting.

They were in an agenda item in the part of the meeting that the public was barred from and were discussed behind closed doors.

The paper was released publicly after the meeting and a request by RNZ.

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