Twitter ‘advice’ sees DHB apologise
A tweet sent out by Midcentral District Health Board encouraging people to work through fatigue has some wondering how it could get its motivational messaging so wrong.
‘‘Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you are done,’’ was the ‘‘motivational Monday’’ Twitter message posted.
The post aimed to give people a ‘‘little encouragement’’ for the start of the week, but Twitter users found it inappropriate from an organisation that deals with overworked medical staff.
Midcentral has since apologised and deleted the message, but unions say the apology rings hollow with overworked doctors, nurses and medical technicians.
Resident Doctors’ Association national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said that, even as a mistake, the tweet highlighted an ‘‘archaic’’ attitude towards overwork.
Last year, 120 Palmerston North doctors joined a nationwide strike to protest being overworked.
Just over a year later, and nine months after reaching a settlement to end the strikes, the same rosters were still in place, Powell said.
‘‘This apology will ring hollow for staff on the ground. It would appear the DHB hasn’t learned a thing [after the strikes].’’
In late 2016, Palmerston North Hospital was short by 41 positions, including 10 in the emergency department, and the issue of tired staff is still festering.
Other tweets in the longrunning series have implored people to be kind to unkind people and advised ‘‘fall seven times – get up eight’’. One timed to coincide with the school holidays said ‘‘Chill! (It’s only) chaos’’.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists national secretary Jeff Brown, who lives in Palmerston North, said the latest tweet was ‘‘absolutely inappropriate’’ from a district health board, and particularly ill-timed and tone-deaf.
‘‘It’s been a hell of a winter. Staff have been going above and beyond to deal with the kind of workload that we’ve never seen before.’’
Ironically, Brown was returning from an international conference on protecting medical professionals’ wellbeing when he came across the gaffe.
Brown said it was important that medical professionals looked after themselves because overwork led to more mistakes and staff burnout.
‘‘The international research shows the first signs of burnout are a lack of compassion and a rise of cynicism. Those are absolutely the last qualities you want to see in our health professionals.’’
Brown said Midcentral may have deleted the tweet and apologised, but the statement was left to stand for 24 hours. It was going to take a lot of work to repair the damage done to the public and staff’s trust in the health board.
Midcentral chief executive Kathryn Cook said Midcentral genuinely regretted posting the motivational Monday tweet.
‘‘A junior staff member posted this tweet with good intentions and we let that person down as our usual review process did not occur.
‘‘We have apologised to all staff and this was a sincere apology.’’
Midcentral was committed to providing safe rosters for resident medical officers and all staff, she said.
‘‘The annual changeover of resident medical officers occurs between now and the end of the calendar year, and we are on track to implement five of six new, safe hours rosters.’’
Midcentral’s staff turnover was 9.1 per cent – one of the lowest in the country, Cook said.
Midcentral also wrote an apology on Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday evening.
Twitter user Nick Phillips said the message made Midcentral look incompetent.
‘‘I tried very hard to write the least offensive reply I could that would, with luck, lead them to realise just how stunningly inappropriate that tweet was.’’
Midcentral DHB’S tweet didn’t go down well and has since been removed.