Survey proof ED in critical state: Clark

David Clark
David Clark
Satisfaction among nurses at Dunedin Hospital's emergency department is evidence the department is in a ''critical state'', North Dunedin MP Dr David Clark says.

Dr Clark, who is also Labour's associate health spokesman, was commenting on a staff survey reported in the Otago Daily Times yesterday, which showed concern over work pressures, morale, and resources.

Dr Clark highlighted the nurses' response to a question on working hours, in which almost 80% said they had worked more than their contracted hours in the past month.

''Twenty percent of those who worked additional hours reported they worked the equivalent of an extra day per fortnight.

"More worryingly, some [4%] estimated they worked close to an extra week's hours each fortnight.

''The vast majority of nurses indicated that they worked the extra hours because they wanted to support colleagues, although a full quarter said they felt pressured to work, or felt guilty if they didn't,'' Dr Clark said.

The situation was caused by Government under-funding, Dr Clark said.

''ED work is incredibly stressful. The staff care hugely about their work, but many are exhausted, and the pressure put on them to keep giving is wearing them down.

"Sooner or later, mistakes will happen, and it could cost a life,'' Dr Clark said.

Dunedin North candidate and National Cabinet Minister Michael Woodhouse declined to comment, his spokeswoman referring the Otago Daily Times to Health Minister Tony Ryall, whose office referred the newspaper to the Southern District Health Board.

Southern DHB chief executive Carole Heatly told the ODT in a written response last week the issues were being worked through in a constructive manner, and some would take longer to fix than others.

Results of the survey, conducted in April and May, were released last week under the Official Information Act, a month after they were requested.

Hospital support

Have you been there lately? It is going downhill fast. Two things... the building and equipment are past their use-by date plus they do not employ enough nurses. Hard to be a professional in that situation.

David Clark does care about the situation and will try to improve things. Its not nonsense, it's common sense.

Not a Labour of love

When Annette King, Pete Hodgson and David Cunliffe were health ministers, the Dunedin Public Hospital wasn't exactly a labour of love to get fixed.

Granted, Tony Ryall could've done more and we could have had a board that were more bothered about the patients interests rather than their own self interests, but please Dr Clark, don't suddenly spout nonsense that you or Labour are going to magically fix things when you're not.

The world smells like fresh paint

The health professionals are like the education professionals have made a rod for their own backs through caring to much. This empathy and loyalty is seized on by those who run the places as a way to get the job done without having to pay more or just being plain ignorant of the issues.

While the place is running well everything else can be ignored as those being taken advantage of offer no public objection or decide to work to rule. So all is well on the surface which is all the bosses know because they are never directly involved in delivering the actual services.

Head in sand

What a surprise, both Mr Woodhouse and Tony Ryall deferring the problem to someone else. Ignoring something doesn't make it go away. Let's hope for Tony Ryall's sake that he does't manage his own health in this way as little niggling concerns (often easily fixed if addressed early) can turn into big incurable problems. Let's hope the Southern DHB can get their act together on this. Like the leaky theatre block, this has been left too long and is now becoming a major problem. Time to earn your pay Carole Heatly!

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