Our guest blogger this week is a registered nurse working in Auckland. Her concerns about the politics of health spurred her to start a blog: http://politicsofhealthnz.wordpress.com/ and we’re pleased that she’s allowed us to cross-post her inaugural post.
The Auckland DHB’s leaked email, which reveals the management team’s readiness to further ramp up the pressure on staff and services in order to balance the books, will come as no surprise to clinicians who have become accustomed to working within an under-resourced system.
The DHB appears willing to enforce the National-led government’s agenda, that of demanding more for less from the entire public service. The government describes this as “cutting the fat”, but those who work in health are acutely aware that this phrase, with its unpleasant connotations of butchery, is an ugly euphemism for renouncing its responsibility to ensure all NZers have equitable access to healthcare.
The day-to-day reality for clinicians is one of attempting to provide care in an environment which increasingly compromises their ability to do so safely and effectively. CEO Ailsa Claire’s statement that “staff costs must be reduced” implies a lack of awareness of the depths to which staff morale has sunk.
Ms Claire describes “the danger of the Board or and (sic) external people determining how we resolve this issue. Not good for the organisation”. If Ms Claire’s fears were realised, it might well be damning for the Auckland DHB’s current management. However, it could be very positive for clinicians and their clients/consumers/patients if the intolerable stresses within the service became publicised as a consequence, and led to the necessary resources being provided.
The services provided by a district health board do not constitute a business, and the failure of those services to function within an inadequate budget cannot be defined as a financial “loss”.
Healthcare for all is a public good which must be properly funded by government, and effectively and compassionately administered and provided by health boards and their employees.. When the means for the latter to do their work is absent, the solution is not to order them to “cut costs” and “control overspending”, it is to pass the responsibility back to those with the power to do something about it, namely, the government.
March 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm
Until the bean counters understand the humaness of health we will be faced with this untolerable situation. Its not a production line!
March 25, 2014 at 6:34 am
While my frail elderly mother was recently in hospital on 2 occasions. I realised that the very basics of nursing care seem to have disappeared. As an ex-nurse, used to working on the ward, it would seem that this is due mostly to lack of staff. No-one checked that she had/was able to drink or eat. No-one asked every few hours if she needed to get to the toilet – she was not safe going alone & we couldn’t stay 24/7 to do this for her. With scepticemia due to a UTI, she was at real risk of dehydration & was very unwell. Of course, she eventually needed an IV for fluids. Nurses don’t just deliver the drugs. They need TIME to NURSE. Brenda
March 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm
Tell this to our managers – they think we are super human ! We would love to nurse properly.
April 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm
Basic nursing cares are our prime concern and core business. It is the basics that patients care about knowing there nurse will ensure there overall well being and safety whilst in hospital. Unfortunately due to an ageing and growing population our work loads are diabolical and even the basics are hard to achieve when looking after 6 or more patients. This is not an excuse its just my own honest experience as an RN.
April 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm
I agree with everything you say Nataria. The sad part is that nursing is a caring profession and caring is one of the basics we are taught. The caring part has gone out of nursing due to time constraints – we were toldby our manager- no one died from being dirty which I think is dreadful. To the managers it is all about budgets – safety for both patient and nurse has gone. Patient loads have become rediculous and unsafe. An accident waiting to happen. I pity the poor nurse who it happens too! Then the culture of blame will kick in and she will get no support.
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April 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm
I won’t be voting for National anymore that’s for sure!
I love to nurse properly at all times but….and there’s the never ending unnecessary paper works that nurses have to write.
April 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm
Articles & letters in Kaitiaki clearly show the level of distress amongst nurses in NZ. No one has the energy anymore to complain about poor pay, the focus is deteriorating conditions. It is election year, money is being thrown at Education & I have yet to hear any politician mention the dire straits health workers are in. It sounds like Dunedin nurses are standing up for themselves, it’s time we all stood together, along with our union. Come on NZNO, we need some direction!