Dunedin nurses are being forced to ration care to patients
because of a staffing crisis, the New Zealand Nurses
Organisation (NZNO) says.
About 300 nurses attended a stop-work meeting this week with
Southern District Health Board management about the
situation, which affects both Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals.
The large turnout at Monday's meeting indicated the
seriousness of the problem, NZNO acting industrial services
manager David Wait said yesterday.
''[The nurses] made it very clear the staffing crisis was
affecting patient care. Some nurses feel they are having to
make choices about what care they can provide and what they
can't, and that's an unacceptable situation for any nurse to
be placed in, or any patient to experience,'' Mr Wait said.
Lack of nurses meant many doing double shifts, and missing
meal breaks, he said.
Part-time nurses were working more shifts, overtime had
become more frequent and the board delayed filling staff
In times of high demand, some beds previously closed were
reopened - but without the staff needed to cope with the
The union wanted the health board to develop a plan to deal
with the crisis, with input from nurses.
Monday's meeting was the largest of its kind in Dunedin for a
long time, Mr Wait, who is based in Auckland, said.
NZNO associate professional services manager Hilary
Graham-Smith said nurses ''must be heard'' when they had
patient care concerns.
''Nurses are the DHB's biggest workforce, and want to be part
of the solution to staffing problems. They must be included
in any discussions about how staffing problems are to be
"If nurses and managers can work together and agree on a plan
to solve the problem, then the outcomes will be better for
patients, nurses and the DHB,'' she said.
Mr Wait said there were staffing difficulties across the DHB,
but they were most acute in the board's two Dunedin
Health board nursing and midwifery director Leanne Samuel
said in a brief email response the meeting was a ''good
opportunity to hear directly from our nursing workforce''.
''We value their hard work, dedication and their input into
''We have undertaken to work with them and NZNO to better
understand these issues and help resolve their concerns and
look forward to more engagement on the issues they have
raised,'' Mrs Samuel said.