The nurses' union is disappointed the Southern District
Health Board's answer to fears Dunedin is in the midst of a
nursing staffing crisis is to set up a working party, rather
than hire more nurses.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) associate professional
services manager Hilary Graham-Smith, of Hamilton, said
delegates were not entirely happy with the board's response.
Members wanted immediate action in the form of hiring new
staff, not a ''talkfest'' and a new working party.
The board this week downplayed the concerns, saying its
nursing staffing levels were ''suitable'', and it would work
through concerns with nurses.
Asked yesterday if the union had exaggerated the problem, Mrs
Graham-Smith said the union had not.
''You get 300 nurses along to a stop-work meeting. That to me
is pretty indicative of some serious concerns,'' she said.
''Nurses don't turn up to those meetings just for the hell of
About 300 nurses attended a stop-work meeting in Dunedin last
week to put concerns to management about working
double-shifts, missing meal breaks, and rationing patient
care at Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals.
The union would meet board management again next week, and
would further press the issue.
Readers' comments on the Otago Daily Times website
yesterday criticised the NZNO's Dunedin branch for failing to
stand up to the health board.
One comment said the Public Service Association (PSA) was
better at handling health board issues on behalf of members.
''We will do whatever we can. We absolutely believe that
there is an issue here to be resolved. But I'm not sure what
the PSA would do differently, to be perfectly honest,'' Mrs
Graham-Smith said in response to the comments of the
She said the union favoured talking and negotiation, because
it was sometimes counterproductive to be too critical.
''Speaking out doesn't necessarily achieve good outcomes
either, because it gets people's backs up, and kind of closes
the door on negotiation, whereas we would prefer to keep that
door open ... to get some sort of satisfactory resolution.''
On the staffing crisis issue, NZNO has directed media comment
through North Island union officials, rather than through
Dunedin NZNO officials.