Dunedin nurses will hold a stop-work meeting next week to put
clinical safety concerns to senior health board managers.
It was an opportunity for union members to speak directly to
Southern District Health Board management, New Zealand Nurses
Organisation organiser Lorraine Lobb said yesterday.
Concerns included budget-driven seasonal bed cuts, although
Ms Lobb did not want to go into details before the meeting on
Monday at 4pm.
''I want the management to listen to the nurses' stories.''
She confirmed some nurses felt cost-cutting had compromised
''We all know that the DHB has to save money, and I guess
it's about how that's done ... and then reassuring our
membership that it can be done with them feeling safe in
their practice and knowing that they're giving good patient
She acknowledged some members felt the union had not been
vocal enough about the cuts.
Ms Lobb was unhappy with coverage in the Otago Daily
Times, including reported comments from the senior
doctors' union about effects of the cuts on the nursing
''There's no doubt some members out there believe that we
should do our business through the ODT. And I know there is,
because I've met them recently.''
Asked if the union should be more transparent, she said
members could readily access information about what the union
was doing to press their concerns.
Patient feedback remained positive about experiences in
Dunedin Hospital and Wakari Hospital, she said.
Of reported comments by representatives of the Association of
Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), she said: ''I don't
always think it's helpful for them to comment on nursing
matters, no. Because we don't discuss their issues''.
ASMS executive director Ian Powell, contacted for a response,
said the nurses' union was being ''overly precious''.
''We have a right to comment on the risks to patient care of
''One of the consequences of bed cuts is nurse staffing
levels. The issues are interwoven and it is impossible not to
mention this as an effect of the cuts.
''Neither doctors nor nurses have a monopoly on concern for
patient care,'' Mr Powell said. Bed reductions affected
Southland, too, but no stop-work meeting was planned there.
Chief executive Carole Heatly and nursing and midwifery
director Leanne Samuel would attend Monday's one-hour meeting
at Dunedin Hospital.
In an emailed statement, Mrs Samuel said she welcomed the
opportunity to attend.
''The absolute priority for the DHB is we provide the best
possible care for our patients. Our new way of working sees
us adjusting beds to meet patient demands on a daily basis.
''Over the summer, 39 beds have been reduced - eight in
Invercargill and 31 in Dunedin - with the process going well
with minimal disruption.
''We continue to manage the beds on a day-by-day,
shift-by-shift basis, and we will open up beds if and when
At a health board committee meeting this month, Health
Minister-appointed Crown monitor Jan White warned members
about a rise in the acute readmission rate, which could be
linked to reduced bed numbers.
The rate measures patients readmitted to hospital within 28
days, and should be watched carefully for further
deterioration, Dr White suggested.