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New Zealand Nurses Organisation concerned at hospital staffing level pressures

New Zealand Nurses Organisation concerned at hospital staffing level pressures

Posted November 12, 2021

Media Release: New Zealand Nurses Organisation

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it’s concerned staffing levels at hospitals in the Auckland Metro DHBs are putting patient care at risk.

NZNO Lead Organiser Christina Couling says that, while Government and the DHBs report they currently have enough beds, that isn’t a lot of use when there aren’t sufficient staff numbers to look after the people in those beds.

“The strain on Auckland health care workers right now is enormous. Each of the three Auckland DHBs has 300-400 nursing vacancies at present and, on top of this, members say a lot of staff are taking sick leave which puts even more pressure on those remaining at work.

“Auckland hospitals may be at less than 100 percent bed capacity, but in many cases there are not enough staff to provide the care required for patients who are seriously unwell with quite complex needs.

Ms Couling said nurses in the community are also feeling the pressure as the number of patients being monitored and cared for in their homes increases.

“There are now several hundred such referrals every day and demand for service is growing at a rapid rate. It is a real concern that the system simply does not have the capacity to handle this and that this could result in more deaths among Covid patients isolating at home.”

She said the health workforce is under considerable stress right now across the country but is especially dire in the Auckland region with current increased demands.

“We have contacted the DHBs seeking an opportunity to meet and discuss how we might assist, particularly with finding ways to support our members, whose resilience is waning.

“We are seeing nurses not coming into work because they are overwhelmed and stressed. Stand downs relating to COVID exposures events also create additional pressure. This is only going to get worse if they continue to be unsupported.

“Nurses are caring professionals, but who is there and what is being done to care for them?”

Watch: Māori nurse working in Paris shares experiences of the COVID-19 outbreak

Mahina Adams (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, French), was in her last months of nursing studies when she was put on the frontlines against Covid in Paris as an ICU nurse.

She worked there from the start of the outbreak to the middle of this year, and witnessed the devastating death and suffering not only of the public but too many of her colleagues as well.

Her message to our health workers, and to all in Aotearoa New Zealand, is this. Covid is real. Covid is deadly. And vaccination is essential.