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Public Can Trust Nurses to Keep Them Safe

Public Can Trust Nurses to Keep Them Safe

While the headlines continue to report serious failings in Wellington Hospital’s safety systems, the public can be assured that nurses are doing everything possible to keep them safe. NZNO President Marion Guy, an experienced emergency nurse, assured the public today that “emergency nurses are 100% focused on identifying serious threats to life and limb, prioritising treatment and keeping people safe”.

Marion Guy says the public are quite reasonably questioning the safety of public hospitals in the wake of preventable harm to patients. On a daily basis, nurses at Wellington Hospital face alarm from patients wondering if they will be left to deteriorate in corridors. Marion Guy acknowledged that our hospitals’ emergency departments are too often overloaded, stretching nurses beyond acceptable safety margins.

“However, that does not mean patients should fear for their safety. We do everything we can to ensure all basic safety standards are met and maintained for people who need our emergency departments,” Marion Guy says. “Our emergency departments are safe. The problem is they are not as safe as they could and should be when hospital systems and processes fail.”

NZNO members at CCDHB have reported to executive managers and the Director of Nursing & Midwifery & Quality that they have reached the limits of safe practice in many settings and want organisational wide actions to improve conditions for the patients in their care.

NZNO members and DHBs jointly agreed on the elements for “safe staffing and healthy workplaces” in New Zealand’s DHBs in 2006. A joint report highlights 7 key elements to improve not only conditions for NZNO members but to also hospital care for communities. It is important that CCDHB works with NZNO to implement these 7 elements for sustainable solutions for safe staffing and a healthy workplace.

Discussing complaints from some managers that nurses have acted irresponsibly in bringing safety concerns to public attention, Marion Guy says “Nurses have an obligation to raise concerns with management. We don’t want to alarm the public. However, our first and last duty is to protect public safety and in situations where management persistently fails to act on concerns raised, we consider it our responsibility to inform the public.”

“The bottom line for nurses is public safety,” says Marion Guy.


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