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NZNO demands DHB response on systemic weaknesses

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has written an urgent letter to the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) saying difficult working conditions faced by nurses are seriously compromising both staff and patient safety.

NZNO Professional Nursing Adviser Anne Brinkman said that what the union and professional association is hearing from HBDHB members is alarming but that no response from management has been received to alleviate nurses’ expressions of concern.

"Nursing staff have been expressing and documenting their health and safety concerns with management repeatedly and at every shift because they pose a significant danger to both patients and staff. Despite this, no response has been received from management and nothing has happened to mitigate these systemic weaknesses."

Ms Brinkman said there has been increasing disquiet about risks arising from high bed occupancy, inadequate staff numbers and skills mix and increasing incidents of violence and aggression by patients.

"Staff are fearful and say their ability to care for patients has been seriously diminished. Managers at HBDHB must recognise their responsibility to staff under the Health and Safety at Work Act and promptly produce an action plan to resolve these concerns."

She says nurses are leaving their shifts in tears and many are actively seeking alternative employment.

"This is a really serious concern as recruiting to nursing vacancies and retention of nursing staff has already been identified as an ongoing problem at the DHB."

She also says the impact of the resident doctors’ strikes has been significantly underestimated and that the strikes could not have gone ahead without the tangible support of nurses at an already difficult time.

NZNO has asked HBDHB to account for how it will address the health and safety concerns raised by nurses in the short- and medium-term, and has requested a response within one week.


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