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Review Fails to Address Emergency Staffing

20 August 2004

Capital and Coast Review Fails to Address Emergency Department Staffing Crisis

“Nursing staff are appalled at the outcome of an internal review into Wellington’s emergency department released yesterday,” said New Zealand Nurses Organisation CEO Geoff Annals.

“Capital and Coast has failed to respond to the call from the coroner and from nursing staff to ensure that there are adequate nursing staffing levels in the emergency department,” he said.

“The staffing levels recommended by the Wellington coroner for Wellington’s ED have not been maintained and the review does not address the ongoing issue of understaffing,” he said.

Geoff Annals said the recommendations from the Wellington coroner’s report on the death of Nileema Sharan, dated Monday 2 August 2004, should have been implemented as part of this review.

The coroner recommended: “that Emergency Department staffing numbers be increased immediately to such a level as will ensure that the workload of individual members is at all times of manageable proportions and does not pose a risk to patient safety.”

“An initial response by Capital and Coast to increase nursing staff has not been maintained and there are fewer nurses actually on duty in the emergency department than a year ago,” said Geoff Annals.

Geoff Annals said ED nursing staff recommended there should be at least 38 full time equivalent nurses on weekly rosters. The current roster means that the department is staffed by 29.8 FTEs, including casual and agency staff, leaving the department understaffed by up to eight nurses.

Geoff Annals said the working conditions in the department were so bad that there had been 27 resignations over the past year.

“Our members have consistently asked Capital and Coast to ensure that patient safety and safe staffing requirements are addressed,” he said.

“The review has failed to respond to the coroner’s recommendations and also failed to heed the concerns of the nurses for the safety of all patients and staff.”

ENDS

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