Waikato Hospi­tal staff show­ing strain

Cambridge Edition - - CONVERSATIONS - AARON LEAMAN

Waikato Hospi­tal’s health bosses are brac­ing for a chal­leng­ing win­ter as staff turnover and work­load de­mands take a toll on front-line staff.

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 can­cer­re­lated or emer­gency-type to be resched­uled.

Alex Gor­don, Waikato DHB medicine, on­col­ogy and emer­gency depart­ment di­rec­tor, gave a brief­ing on the cri­sis at the board’s May meet­ing.

Al­though the hospi­tal re­sponded well to the 24-hour over­load, Gor­don said con­cerns re­mained.

‘‘We’ve been un­der quite a lot of pres­sure re­cently and there’s been quite a lot of nurse res­ig­na­tions. We’ve had 20 nurse res­ig­na­tions since July last year, which is quite sig­nif­i­cant,’’ Gor­don said.

‘‘We’d nat­u­rally get a turnover of staff in terms of peo­ple go­ing over­seas to work and work­ing in other DHBs, but cer­tainly the is­sue of pres­sure within the depart­ment is be­ing raised far more fre­quently.’’

The depart­ment had also ex­pe­ri­enced a change of per­son­nel in its three most se­nior op­er­a­tional po­si­tions.

‘‘That meant last month, the month of April, we were quite down in terms of op­er­a­tional lead­ers, which caused some un­cer­tainty in the depart­ment,’’ Gor­don said.

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

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

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

Health Min­istry fig­ures for Jan­uary to March show Waikato’s ED as the worst in terms of length of pa­tient stays.

Waikato DHB chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Nigel Mur­ray said im­prov­ing the per­for­mance of the hospi­tal’s ED in­volved a sys­tem-wide ap­proach aimed at im­prov­ing the flow of pa­tients through the hospi­tal.

‘‘We don’t dis­charge pa­tients promptly enough for the in­com­ing pa­tients, so that’s an­other is­sue that the hospi­tal is work­ing on.’’

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