The nurses' union will take a ''strategic approach'' to
releasing information about conditions in Dunedin and Wakari
hospitals in its attempts to persuade the health board to
hire more staff.
Some New Zealand Nurses Organisation members are unhappy the
North Island union officials handling the situation have
given few details to illustrate what the union calls a
The Southern District Health Board is downplaying the claims,
saying its nursing workforce is sufficient, but it will set
up a working party to look at concerns.
Industrial adviser Lesley Harry, of Hamilton, said members
should raise complaints or concerns about union tactics
The situation in Dunedin was ''dire'', and required urgent
''We'll take a strategic approach to how we disclose
information because ultimately we want things to change,'' Ms
The union had to be careful detailing specific concerns,
because details could identify staff.
''Our discussions will take place with the DHB. We will be
tabling all the evidence that we have that members have
''If need be, if the DHB don't respond, we will think about
our next steps.
''I think the DHB will sit up and listen.''
However, yesterday, at the board's hospital advisory
committee, it appeared board members were satisfied with
senior management's cost-cutting drive. Board chairman Joe
Butterfield said a strategy that slashed bed nights since the
middle of last year was ''good, even if the nurses' union
doesn't think so''.
A report to the meeting showed the board had ''saved'' more
than 2000 bed nights since the strategy started.
Nursing and midwifery director Leanne Samuel said the board
would meet the union again today about the concerns.
Committee members noted that key markers of hospital health,
including acute readmission rates, were improving, which
indicated cost-cutting was not affecting patient care.
In response, Ms Harry said nurses told a different story than
''They can bury their heads in the sand, but 300 members at
that meeting were telling them something else.''
The union hoped the board would hire experienced nurses, and
bring forward graduate nurse positions deferred to October.
About 300 nurses attended a stop-work meeting last week to
put concerns to management about working double-shifts,
missing meal breaks, and rationing patient care at Dunedin
Hospital, and Wakari Hospital.