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New Zealand: Nurse shortage at Waikato Hospital leaves staff feeling unsafe - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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New Zealand: Nurse shortage at Waikato Hospital leaves staff feeling unsafe by Idowu Olabode : June 03, 2017, 08:59:07 AM
Once again, Waikato Hospital was far from business as usual.

On Thursday evening, Waikato Hospital bosses were scrambling to fill about 30 spaces for nurses on night shift due to "general illness" taking a toll.

A source who did not want to be named said ahead of the shift, staff were feeling unsafe.

"I work as a nurse because I care about patients and I care about the people I work with. If we keep working like this, we will have staff not wanting to go to work because of stress. We will be putting people's lives at risk."

Alex Gordon, director of medicine, oncology and emergency department, said management did not realise numbers would be as low as they were until late in the day.

He said general illness was the cause.

"[Thursday] night was quite challenging. We did a lot of work to provide extra support into the wards."

Nurses were redeployed  and some were asked to stay later or start earlier to make up numbers, he said.

More replacements than usual were planned early in the day, but as calls started to come through later in afternoon, management realised far more people were affected by illness and the sickness rate rose.

Gordon did not think any surgeries had to be rescheduled because of the staffing issue.

There has been no evidence of any negative impact on patients, he said.

It was outside of the hospital's "business as usual" approach, he said.

A higher volume of patients and staffing issues has left hospital bosses bracing for the upcoming winter months.

Since last July, more than 20 nurses have resigned from the emergency department, many citing stress.

Waikato Hospital's emergency department was tipped into overload on May 23, prompting elective surgeries that weren't cancer-related or emergency types to be rescheduled.

Gordon said management is proactively recruiting for extra staff.

In December, the Waikato DHB announced plans to boost doctor and nurse numbers in the hospital's ED.

The emergency department's roster includes about 40 full-time equivalent doctors and 75 nurses.

The recruitment drive would see nursing numbers boosted to 89 full-time equivalent positions.

Gordon encouraged people to have a flu jab.

"If we keep on having this type of pressure, it won't be great."

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