Nurse shortage poses problems at Wakari

PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
A shortage of registered nurses is posing issues for management of difficult patients at Wakari Hospital.

A report to be considered by a committee of the Southern District Health Board today said ward 10a — which cares for patients who have intellectual disability and/or mental illness and exhibit challenging behaviour — continued to have to deal with acute serious patients while managing a nurse shortage.

A staff member had recently been seriously assaulted and a court process was now under way.

"Staff continue to be supported and have had a formal debriefing," the report said.

"The ward remains capped at nine beds although will accept [compulsory care] admissions above that number if required."

The ward usually cares for 12 people.

One of the patients was a dangerous patient who had been transferred from Wellington to Dunedin while renovations were carried out at his normal facility.

"He presents significant risks to staff and of absconding and offending.

"The ministry has agreed to provide a security presence on the ward, through the forensic co-ordination service discretionary fund.

"This ... is having a significant beneficial impact."

The service continued to liaise with the police and requested assistance as needed to help manage volatile situations, the report said.

"[This] continues to highlight the service’s inability to manage these times without additional help."

The mental health service was considering setting up a "combined response team", modelled on a Wellington pilot scheme.

The SDHB’s mental health and addiction system is being independently reviewed.

A steering group, with Dr Clive Bensemann as chairman, held its first meeting last month and

is evaluating proposals from candidates to carry out the review.

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