Safety complaint at Wakari dismissed, despite concerns

A workplace safety complaint concerning Wakari Hospital has been dismissed, but the Southern District Health Board has welcomed the scrutiny of its procedures.

In November last year WorkSafe carried out a proactive workplace assessment of health and safety matters at Wakari.

The assessment came soon after the Otago Daily Times revealed details of a report into the run-down condition of buildings on the Wakari campus, in which staff had raised multiple issues regarding the safety of themselves and patients.

While not releasing details of what had sparked its investigation, a WorkSafe spokeswoman said its assessment had focused specifically on how the SDHB engaged with staff.

"WorkSafe is satisfied there is a good strategic plan in place to address internal health and safety concerns and manage risk."

SDHB health and safety general manager James Knapp said the complaint was unsupported by evidence, but WorkSafe’s involvement had been useful.

"The process was still valuable to us and we have acted on the WorkSafe inspector’s feedback about some specific areas we could focus on," he said.

"Lifting worker engagement and participation is particularly important to us, and indeed is a focus of the wider strategic framework."

The SDHB had recently appointed a new safety adviser to liaise with health and safety representatives, a system which was working well, Mr Knapp said.

"We have numerous work programmes in place, and have been developing a strategic framework for this with input from WorkSafe and others, with goals of having the right systems in place so our people can deliver care safely, and ensuring everyone can go home safe and well."

The Sapere report said the poor state of many of the buildings at Wakari did not support quality care of inpatients or outpatients, and raised safety issues for staff, patients and visitors.

The SDHB has been exploring putting together a business plan to approaching Treasury for funding to address issues at the hospital.

Mr Knapp said the SDHB would have ongoing meetings with WorkSafe to monitor safety issues at Wakari.


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