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Ward 27 incident

Ward 27 incident

The following comments may be attributed to Margot Mains, chief executive, Capital & Coast DHB.

Yesterday (Sunday 25 April) in response to an event in Ward 27 at Wellington Hospital over ANZAC weekend, I issued a statement which read:

This is a distressing incident for everyone involved, and our thoughts are very much with the patient and his family at this time.

I am seeking an independent review to look into this incident. I will not be making any further comment until that process is completed, and also out of respect for the family’s request for no media involvement.

I stand by that statement, and would once again ask that you consider the family’s wishes in your coverage. This is an extremely serious incident, and with all due respect, it must be allowed to be investigated in a thorough and appropriate clinical manner.

However certain claims have appeared in the media which I feel cannot go unchallenged.

Certain media have cast doubt over whether recommendations from a report into a tragic incident last year have been adopted. Senior staff assure me that all 23 of these recommendations have been adopted. Most of these recommendations relate to procedures regarding the documentation and communication of information within Ward 27, while others addressed physical security. The ward now has a single point of access/egress, which is closely monitored, in addition to security cameras, electronic locking of doors, etc.

We have in fact gone further than those recommendations and are actioning a number of other improvements to Ward 27, including extra resourcing to improve quality, education, systems and processes in the ward.

One media outlet today claimed there were just 9 staff looking after 35 patients in Ward 27 at the time of the ANZAC weekend incident. Initial inquiries indicate there were in fact 11 fully qualified registered nurses looking after 32 patients in Ward 27 at the time of the incident. This is, in clinical terms, a very good staffing to patient ratio.

Staff responded to this incident within seconds of the patient starting to leave the ward area, and showed bravery in attempting to prevent the incident occurring. Since that time intensive care clinicians, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and dozens of other staff have been involved in the patient’s ongoing care.

I would like to commend those staff for their dedication. An incident such as this is devastating for all involved.

I would ask that the media allow us time to conduct a proper independent review of this incident, and that they consider the wishes of the family concerned, and the interests of other patients with mental health issues in their coverage of this very delicate subject area.


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