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.

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