Waikato Hospital staff showing strain
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.’’