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Adverse events report reveals heavy under-resourcing

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) welcomes "Learning from adverse events: Te ako I ngā pāpono kōaro", released by the Health & Safety Commission last week.

However, NZNO Professional Nursing Adviser Kate Weston says the yearly report is once again evidence of an under-resourced health system that is putting the wellbeing of New Zealanders at risk.

"More than 50 percent of the 916 reported adverse events relate to clinical care and indicate under-staffing. Failure to rescue, for example, which has risen by an alarming 28 percent, happens when staff are busy and stretched. The high number of pressure injuries reported are also evidence of not having enough time to deliver proper care."

Ms Weston says factors mentioned in the report reflect what NZNO members say across the country about too few nursing staff to meet ever-increasing patient needs.

"The report confirms the incredible stress nurses, midwives and health care assistants are under every day. How many times do we need to be reminded that the health system is not sufficiently resourced for employers to meet their obligations around safe staffing? How many adverse events will it take?"

The report suggests the increase in recorded serious events could be the result of better reporting, while acknowledging this should not be assumed. Ms Weston says, however, that the notion of better reporting has been around for too long to continue as an acceptable explanation and that the increases are more likely to relate to workloads, insufficient staffing and poor skills mix - which the report also acknowledges.

"Many of those affected by adverse events are our most vulnerable, such as the elderly. Apart from the pain and suffering caused, many will no longer be able to live independently, which is a huge cost to them on a personal and financial level, and to the health system funded by tax payers."

Ms Weston said the report was a valuable tool and indicator of the need for increased spending on health. But she questioned the lack of security and staff safety reports.


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