New Zealand

DHB cut services as nurses strike today over wages and terms. Video / NZ Herald

The beds at Christchurch Hospital are empty because there are not enough nurses to handle them.

This is according to medical staff at the hospital, who said a stretched workforce is now at the breaking point.

A hospital doctor, who asked not to be named, said last week there were 19 empty beds in the hospital.

It was at the same time that demand exceeded supply, necessitating the cancellation of 54 surgeries, as the operating beds were rather occupied by acute patients.

So why not use the 19 beds available, instead of postponing surgeries, six of which had cancer? The reason, according to a nurse who asked not to be named, was the lack of nurses to staff these beds.

“There isn’t much that you can keep asking people to step up and do more with less and it’s usually less of us to do more for the number of patients we have in the world. wears on a given day.

“You know, I recently had someone text me that he was on sick leave, because he had just had enough. They are so exhausted, they are looking elsewhere, they just can’t do that. “

She said poor wages and poor working conditions had caused experienced nurses and new graduates to look overseas, where demand had never been higher due to Covid-19.

“Due to understaffing, stress, hard work and threat of violence and stuff, nurses don’t stay.”

Christchurch Hospital colorectal cancer surgeon Frank Frizelle said not being able to perform the surgeries people had been booked for because there were no nurses available was frustrating.

He said the postponed surgeries had a “cascading effect” and that a cancellation could end up delaying treatment for seven to eight other patients down the line as surgeons catch up.

“Patients who find they cannot have this surgery have a huge impact on them emotionally, their family and loved ones, and their treatment, at a time when they are very vulnerable because of their condition. Cancer.”

In addition to the 19 that were empty last week, Frizelle noted that an entire room in the recently completed Waipapa Wing had yet to be occupied, due to a lack of resources.

He said the government urgently needed to increase the number of nurses so that Christchurch Hospital could use all of its unused beds.

Christchurch Hospital sees operations canceled and beds empty due to understaffing.  Photo / Supplied
Christchurch Hospital sees operations canceled and beds empty due to understaffing. Photo / Supplied

“I think they need to stop and think and talk to the patients. Probably family and friends who have been sick, maybe even colleagues who have been hospitalized and just understand what it is. is that you have cancer and you cannot seek treatment. “

In a statement, DHB chief executive Peter Bramley said there were 70 vacant nursing positions in his hospitals.

He did not say whether his DHB was experiencing a nursing shortage, saying only that graduate employment “across the health system” this year was “in line with previous years.”

He said empty beds would still be needed to accommodate additional demand and that those beds would be staffed with the required nurses, “to the extent possible.”

Bramley apologized for the stress and inconvenience faced by those whose surgery was postponed.

All eyes were now on negotiations between the nurses’ union and the DHB to see if more money would be available to address the shortage as hospitals head into winter, the busiest time of the year. year.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 19:07:52


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