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North Shore Hospital At Capacity

13 September 2004

North Shore Hospital At Capacity

North Shore Hospital is experiencing a winter period that is much busier than predicted. In preparing for winter the hospital increased budgets for nursing positions and opened a winter ward. In the last month the number of people presenting at the Emergency Care Centre (ECC) has been much higher than previous years.

The fact that there are so many people presenting is unpredicted and the strain on staff is starting to show. According to North Shore Hospital general manager, Rachel Haggerty, the original predictions were based on a two percent population growth and over the past four weeks this has been exceeded.

“Winter is always busy, and we do factor in higher workloads during this time. However, the number of people walking through the door is beyond anything that we planned for and we do not have enough available beds or staff to manage this easily,” she said.

“In 2003, the number of days in which we had over 130 people in ECC was 13. When you compare this to our 2004 figures of 60 days, that’s over four-times as many patients which we are trying to manage.

“This is not to say that we didn’t plan for significant growth at the beginning of the year. Looking at last year we have 23 more beds on the wards, we have purchased more equipment, we have 58 additional nursing equivalents on the wards and our actual staff numbers have increased.”

However, despite the additional resources, the strain on the Hospital is particularly evident in the ECC, where they are currently understaffed by 15 nurses and the conditions show little respite.

“We are sympathetic to the nurse’s current situation and we are working with them and the NZNO to find constructive ways to relieve the pressures. A meeting was held with staff over two weeks ago where we agreed upon a series of actions, which we are currently following through. At our meeting today we were able to report back on our progress,” she said.

Over the last two months progress has been made in the following areas:

A new graduate programme has begun in the ECC with the first two graduates now into their second week orientation. A more flexible approach has been taken in regards to flexible, family friendly hours and this is attracting experienced emergency nurses back into the department.

Medical and surgical teams are working extra hours. Weekly payroll clinics are held to ensure staff can resolve any pay issues. Elective surgery has been postponed.

A Sunday discharge team has been introduced. MRI is now open to 7pm. Technicians to take blood for tests and and electrocardiograms are working within the ECC.


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