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
"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
''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
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.