Concern health heads are ''robbing Nurse Betty to pay Dr
Ropata'' by skimping on nurse budgets has been raised by a
Southern District Health Board member.
Dr John Chambers added that as a doctor himself, a Dunedin
Hospital emergency department specialist, he felt ''guilty''
that nurses were under pressure, while the board overspent on
his own profession.
The health board has rejected claims from the New Zealand
Nurses Organisation that Dunedin nursing is in crisis.
Yet last night, it released a statement announcing it would
employ an extra 18 graduate nurses, starting on April 28, and
was recruiting 14 enrolled nurse new graduates.
Communications director Steve Addison said he understood the
move was unrelated to claims more nurses were needed, but the
Otago Daily Times understands at least some of the
positions were brought forward from October. It was unclear
how many positions were in Dunedin.
The board has closed beds to save money, but maintains it is
not affecting patient care.
The issue was discussed at yesterday's board meeting in
Dr Chambers, who was elected to the board at last year's
election, questioned whether board members were well
informed, and whether various statistical measures presented
each month gave an accurate representation of hospital
He cited a couple of key measures that were not shown on a
Chairman Joe Butterfield said health budgets were difficult
to predict, so it might look as though various areas ended up
with too much, or too little money, but that was not
necessarily the case.
Chief executive Carole Heatly said executive managers kept a
close eye on critical indicators, viewing them frequently,
including those cited by Dr Chambers.
The changes meant nurses were able to focus on clinical
tasks, rather than jobs lower-skilled workers could do, she
Board member Richard Thomson encouraged managers to be as
open as possible with information.
The board was ''in the middle of a firestorm'' because of
media publicity, and a lack of information did not help, Mr
A report to the board members shows year-to-date spending
(seven months to the end of January) on medical personnel was
$3.6 million more than budgeted, and spending on nurses was
about $600,000 less than expected.