Pressured nurses are feeling unsafe and unsupported at Capital & Coast District Health Board according to DHB’s own staff engagement survey, reports nurses’ union NZNO.

Erin Kennedy, lead delegate for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and a staff nurse at Wellington Hospital, said the survey results showed only 19 per cent of nurses and midwives responding felt safe or supported at the DHB. Kennedy said NZNO believed this was a direct result of underfunding causing financial deficits and the “sick health funding system” was hurting everyone.

Andrea McCance, the DHB’s executive director nursing and midwifery, acknowledged the survey identified that many staff “are feeling under pressure, are emotionally drained and are experiencing or witnessing unwarranted behaviour”. “This is unacceptable and we are committed to addressing this,” said McCance.

She said nurse and midwives were the backbone of the DHB’s workforce and the wellbeing and safety of staff was of paramount importance. “We strive to provide a safe and supportive environment for all staff, and inappropriate behaviour of any kind is unacceptable,” said McCance.

Kennedy believed the survey results highlighted that there were “simply not enough dollars” to deliver the care patients needed and deserved. She said this made a “huge impact” on nurses and midwives who were “leaving shifts exhausted, and stretched beyond capacity due to short staffing, insufficient resources and a system strained beyond coping”.

The staff engagement survey was carried out in March-April this year and had just under 3000 clinical and non-clinical participants – just over half of the DHB’s workforce. NZNO organiser Georgia Choveaux said about 39 per cent of nurses and midwives responded – approximately 800 people.

The DHB shared the survey results for all staff at its June 28 meeting which indicated 69 per cent of staff felt positively engaged with the DHB, 70 per cent felt motivated in their work and 65 per cent agreed or strongly agreed they would recommend the DHB and the work that it does.

It also reported that the areas required the most focus for improvement included supporting staff to “cope with the demands of their work”, “eliminating bulling and unwarranted behaviour” in the workplace and ensuring “quality communication”.

McCance said the board was committed to working for change, and had initiated a range of activities to address safety issues and to nurture a positive work environment.

NZNO Organiser Georgia Choveaux says that NZNO supports CCDHB’s acknowledgment that urgent work needs to be done. “We are confident that no nurse and no manager would want to see such poor results as this survey has returned,” said. “We know staff and the board alike want the best outcome for every patient in Wellington.”

However, Choveaux said the Government needed to “fix the broken funding model” to ensure CCDHB was resourced to provide a safe workplace. “Instructing the DHB board to find further efficiencies or saving costs at this point can only come at the detriment of patients and staff alike.”


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