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Magnet New Zealand Forum

Magnet New Zealand Forum

It is clear that Magnet hospitals attract and retain highly qualified professional nurses and deliver consistent and high standards of patient care. I believe the Magnet framework has enormous potential in New Zealand.

It is a real pleasure to have been invited to speak to you at this forum today. I am always delighted have an opportunity to talk about promoting excellence in health care, and that is what this forum is all about.

Congratulations to Magnet NZ, particularly your chair Christine Payne and your hard-working secretariat, for all you have done to raise awareness of the Magnet concept in New Zealand, and for organising this forum.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of a distinguished overseas visitor, Kim Sharkey, who is attending this forum from Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, USA.

I understand this is a whirlwind trip for you, Kim, but I hope you get a chance to see some of our beautiful country during your brief stay. I know everyone here today is really looking forward to hearing about your first-hand experience of working in a Magnet organization, and we all appreciate the effort you have made to be here.

I also extend a warm welcome to many representatives from across the health sector attending this forum today.

There have been two constants throughout my two terms as Health Minister. One is that I am continually impressed by the dedication and commitment of so many thousands of people who share responsibility for improving the health of New Zealanders. And the other constant is that nothing is ever plain sailing.

Delivery of optimal health outcomes always creates challenges for health care providers. Such challenges include ongoing recruitment and retention concerns, workforce development issues, competition for the health dollar, workplace stress, and even discord between health professionals. All these factors can impact significantly on a provider's ability to deliver a quality health service.

That is why I am so interested in the Magnet concept. It is clear that Magnet hospitals attract and retain highly qualified professional nurses and deliver consistent and high standards of patient care. I believe the Magnet framework has enormous potential in New Zealand.

The Magnet framework was developed from a national study of US hospitals to identify the organisational characteristics of hospitals that were able to recruit and retain nurses during a national nursing shortage.

I know that some concerns have been raised about New Zealand considering implementation of an American concept, but, regardless of where initiatives originate, evidence is evidence and it cannot be ignored.

In fact, the Magnet concept is now being embraced in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Ireland and Japan, with 16 countries so far developing processes that embrace Magnet principles.

I believe there is a strong body of evidence that demonstrates that the adoption of Magnet principles improves organisational culture. This in turn improves patient outcomes, and the retention of nurses.

The Centre for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, led by Professor Linda Aiken, studied Magnet-recognised health organisations to investigate how modifiable traits in health organisations affect patient and nursing outcomes.

The Centre reported that over the last 15 years these organisations have consistently reduced mortality and morbidity rates. Its researchers found that there was a shorter average in-hospital length of stay and increased levels of patient satisfaction.

In terms of the cost of Magnet recognition, Linda Aiken's research findings suggest that higher investment in staffing and better clinical practice environments in Magnet organisations lead to fewer adverse patient events. Magnet initiatives can mean reduced time in hospital, less time in intensive care, and reductions in ancillary costs, such as medicines.

Some Magnet-recognised organisations have faced higher staffing costs because of more favourable staffing levels, but they have also boasted much lower turnover rates than comparable hospitals, with improved staff retention resulting in substantial savings. Magnet organisations appear, over the long term, to be consistently more cost-effective and achieve better patient outcomes than other comparable organisations.

The Magnet NZ vision is to improve the health of New Zealanders through developing health care environments using evidence-based standards to improve patient outcomes, increase patient safety, and provide high-quality nursing.

Magnet NZ will act as the overall monitoring body for the development of Magnet hospitals in New Zealand, and I know you will hear much more about the role of Magnet NZ during the course of today's forum.

I am pleased to see the progress of a two-year quest for Magnet recognition at Hutt Valley District Health Board, the first DHB to embark on the Magnet programme in New Zealand. The evaluation of the Hutt project is expected in 2004-05.

The Magnet concept fits comfortably with the New Zealand Health Strategy Improving Quality Plan, and I am delighted to learn that a number of other DHBs are now either working towards Magnet recognition or are considering doing so.

Improving Quality represents a commitment to support continuous quality improvement by each person working in the health sector, and by the health system itself. We want to put people at the heart of the system, particularly at the interface between those receiving health and disability services and those delivering them.

It goes without saying that we will all be interested to see how well the Magnet principles can be adapted to the New Zealand health context.

In other countries, Magnet principles have traditionally been applied only to hospitals, but in New Zealand I am interested in seeing these principles extended across the DHB framework and across settings such as psychiatric and community health care.

I am pleased to have been asked to perform a special task today, to launch Magnet New Zealand's toolkit, designed to provide a resource for health organisations keen to work towards implementing Magnet principles. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that this document is now well and truly launched.

As I said earlier, achieving Magnet status is about recognising excellence that is already evident within the organisation. In other words, it's about highlighting and accentuating the positives.

I believe that introducing Magnet principles in New Zealand will improve workforce satisfaction and result in better quality care.

Thank you again for inviting me. I wish you all the best for the rest of your forum today. I hope your enthusiasm proves to be contagious.


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