NZNO's Blog

Nelson ED nurses get together to create change


successNZNO members at Nelson Hospital have had their voices heard. They have successfully advocated for quality patient care and a safe environment for staff.

ED staff have been concerned for some time that their work is being compromised by a lack of staff, and all the flow on effects of that situation.

Reportable events about staffing levels had been logged but no action taken. NZNO College of Emergency Nurses guidelines for nurse/ patient ratios were not being met and nursing staff were concerned about the potential for breaches of the Health and Disability Commission code of patient rights.

The ED was experiencing an increased number of high acuity patients and Government targets were not being met. Staff vacancies were not being filled in a timely way and staff were worried that more vacancies were coming up. Annual leave requests were being turned down and staff were becoming more and more stressed and fatigued. They were overworked and overwhelmed.

It’s pretty hard on morale if you work in an emergency department and you don’t have the resources to deal with an emergency!

It’s often difficult to see the wood for the trees when you’re feeling like that, so it is a testament to the courage and wisdom of NZNO members that they made a decision to do something about it, and then followed through.

A meeting with the Director of Nursing and Midwifery and the Nelson Associate Director of Nursing was called and members told their stories one by one. It was a powerful and moving meeting. Staff were honest, passionate and resolute that the situation needed to change. That was 2 weeks ago.

Within 2 days the numbers had been crunched and ED staff were notified that an extra 2.14FTE had been approved and were being advertised. In the interim, casual staff are being used to ease the workload.

It’s a great outcome, and one that only happened because NZNO members worked collectively to address their concerns. When we stand together we are heard.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takitini.

Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.


3 thoughts on “Nelson ED nurses get together to create change

  1. It’s good to see nurses making changes by speaking out. It’s even better to see nursing management sit down with nurses and listen to real stories. More of this and we would see some real improvements in our hospitals.

  2. Liz, I’m sorry to tell you that you have really misunderstood the situation. There were several issues discussed, one was that the annual leave had been reduced to a level to which the NMDHB were unable to fulfil there contractual requirements, the extra staff which are now being recruited will enable the correct amount of leave to be taken pro-rata by staff. There are not going to be extra nurses working on the floor .The issue of understaffing and concerns for patient safety have not yet been addressed- but this is an on-going discussion between management and staff which will hopefully lead to improvements. So no” big win”, just the ability to take leave owed.

  3. I still see this as a win by the Nelson nurses. It is becoming increasingly difficult for our members to take annual leave in some areas in Wellington. If staff cannot take the leave they are entitled to under the MECA, then there is clearly an understaffing issue. I also regard it as a positive move when nursing management actually sit down and talk to their nurses.

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