Some emergency department nurses fought a change that has
them laundering their uniforms, Dunedin Hospital ED specialist
John Chambers says.
Nurses in ED now wear the board's new uniform, rather than
scrubs, and it is not laundered by the Southern District
Some nurses felt ''very strongly'' about the possible
infection risk from washing their own uniform. They had
appealed to management citing scientific evidence, but the
change went ahead, Dr Chambers said.
A New Zealand Nurses Organisation spokeswoman said the union
was comfortable with the change, which infection control
research supported as a safe practice.
North Dunedin MP David Clark said the problem of antibiotic
resistance made hygiene practices more central to infection
control, and he could understand the nurses' concern.
The Labour MP viewed the measure as cost-cutting, although
the board has rejected this.
He admired the stoicism of hospital staff during what was a
Patient services director Lexie O'Shea said most nurses had
washed their own uniform for years.
Nurses in ED, intensive care, and some other areas apart from
the main operating theatres had worn scrubs, which were
laundered by the health board.
As and when these areas were issued with the new DHB uniform,
nurses in these departments would wear it and wash it
''However, if a nurse's uniform becomes spoiled with blood or
body fluid at work requiring a need to change, their uniform
will be commercially laundered and a loan uniform provided.
This approach is endorsed by our infection control teams.''
The board has asked staff to come up with ideas for how it
could save money.
The ''What Can You Do'' campaign had garnered more than 150
suggestions, and the board was pleased with the response.
''These suggestions will be worked through to see which
should become projects, and which should be promoted to
However, Public Service Association southern region organiser
Julie Morton said staff felt ''cynical'' about the campaign.
While staff and unions were keen to reduce waste, they were
not confident the ideas would be followed up. It felt like a
''publicity'' exercise for senior management to demonstrate
it was doing something about the board's financial deficit.
The board seemed to be putting the deficit problem on to
staff, but not giving them the resources to make the changes,
Mrs Morton said.