NZNO's Blog

Apology needed, stat!


Apology - Street ArtLast week an odd article appeared online and in the Dominion Post praising Hutt Hospital for taking on the lessons of Unilever soap factory.

Along with description of the hospital’s new “nerve centre”, with its centrepiece of four huge screens displaying brightly coloured speedometers, bar graphs and traffic lights, there were some other, more depressing, comments as well.

Hospital manger Peng Voon implied that staff were regularly dishonest; “hiding beds”, lying about the time scheduled to change dressings and saying that a culture change was needed.

While there is no doubt that the new system means things are working more smoothly, it is absolutely no fault of the nursing team that they weren’t previously!

At NZNO we hear about stressed and overworked nurses with not enough resource to consistently provide the quality of care they wish to. At the DHB, overtime has been stopped (unless pre-approved), so nursing staff are absolutely at breaking point.

I have heard that the awful comments made about them have brought some nurses to tears, and others to anger. What a shame that what could have been a positive article for the hospital and staff should have been ruined by the undermining comments of someone who seems to have lost her faith in nursing.

Nurses at Hutt Hospital want an apology and we at NZNO certainly think they deserve one.

Apparently the Chief Operating Officer, Peter Chandler has apologised for the comments on the hospital intranet but that’s not enough. The comments were made publicly, to a readership in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands – his apology must be made publicly too.

Hutt DHB, your staff deserve an apology, stat!


Photo credit: Phil King via Flickr

9 thoughts on “Apology needed, stat!

  1. It is absolutely disgusting that a public apology has not yet been issued for those comments. When Mr Chandler does get round to saying sorry, perhaps he could also apologise to the nurses who are regularly forced to miss meal breaks or do unpaid overtime due to poor staffing. And if he has doubts about the time needed to change dressings, perhaps he should get out there on the floor and see what real life is like for nurses and patients on the wards.

  2. I agree with Erin’s comments. A public apology needs to issued and we accept nothing less than that

  3. There have been multiple calls made on the DHB website for a public apology via the same media that was used to ridicule and undermine the practice of nurses within Hutt Valley DHB with no response to date. But really, what’s the point? They have already glossed over their errors as in “not their fault, misinterpretation by the media” excuses, they’ll likely only do the same in a public release. I find it incredulous to honestly believe that senior management could be so naive in making such statements that could be so misconstrued by the media in the first place! If any nurse had made such statements – they’d have been without a job a long time ago. Regardless, it certainly won’t be the response that we’ve been waiting for and management should have apologised without pressure from anyone immediately after the article was published, so they obviously are still oblivious to the chaos they have created. Nursing staff are being hammered, we’re all tired chasing carrots and with more and more senior staff leaving we are heading into a vulnerable, dangerous future. We are constantly being asked by our line managers to keep writing the event forms – the only event form they will ever sit back and take notice of will be the sentinel One that will impact on a nurses career, future and likely cost them their registration – for that nurse, change will come too late!! I think it’s time to put the public straight as to what our jobs involve, the challenges we are facing every single day to keep ourselves and our patients safe only to feel ridiculed and undermined by management. Morale at Hutt is at its lowest – we were once proud of Hutts ‘can do – teamwork’ ethic, now it’s rapidly becoming a culture of every man for himself. That is sad and disheartening. Management have ripped the heart out of Hutt Hospital.

  4. The nursing staff do absolutely the best with what they have – which is not much at all! The nurses bear the brunt of abuse and disgruntlement, but most people don’t know what these nurses are dealing with and the Hutt Hospital is terrible from a nursing staff members’ point of view. Lack of staff because no one wants to work there, lack of dressings and other essential equipment. Orders that bedding only be changed if ‘heavily soiled’, one polystyrene cup per patient per day. No using the hospital photocopier to photocopy their roster. Long hours, no thanks from those who spend their days in offices earning ridiculous salaries and making decisions that put even more pressure on an already pushed to breaking point nursing staff. Check out the turnover in nursing staff over the last 12 months – you’d be shocked. Maybe they should put those statistics on their fancy digital screens. I know many nurses who have left the hospital because they weren’t allowed to provide the level of care and dignity that patients deserve. They were passionate, caring and committed, however, had to leave because the situation was unbearable. Shame on ‘management’ for their mismanagement!

  5. No wonder nurses are angry. Being made to leave patients in beds that need changing is dehumanising for patients and demoralising for nurses and health care assistants. You can bet your bottom dollar that most patients will take from that rule that the nurses just can’t be bothered. And one polystyrene cup per patient per day? How disgusting! Gee, I wonder how much money they’d save if they started re-using syringes?

  6. As requested, Jo Coffey, NZNO.

    Well, I read the latest article on Stuff and this one really does take the cake. I’ve kept my mouth shut over the years with the bad press that nursing constantly gets, but I’ve taken affront to the comments that our own management have made in this one. Great that the Ops Centre have taken the accolades for reaching 95% of target for every quarter. However, I cannot believe the unprofessional comments made by senior management with regard to ‘perceived’ nursing practice to the media! “In one case, a nurse had been allocating two hours every shift changing dressings, which ought to be a quick job”, says Pete Chandler. Can I ask respectfully when was the last time you changed a dressing Pete? Many of them DO take two hours and more, they are often extremely complex, especially in areas like surgical and plastics. Ms Voon made the comment “some wards were ‘hiding’ the fact they had spare beds because they did not have the staffing to cope with extra patients”. That finding in itself should set alarm bells ringing to management that staff are not coping with the ever escalating workloads? But I don’t see management addressing that concern. Both of these throw away, short-sighted comments are reported as black and white, they are not! Such comments are totally inappropriate, much less to be made in a public arena. These comments just continue to paint a negative picture of nurses being dishonest, deceitful and lazy, sitting in staff rooms drinking coffee and playing on iPhones! The technology may have been installed to monitor the movement of patients but at the end of the day it is the medical, nursing and allied staff that have ultimately achieved this movement! We don’t see senior management wandering the wards in the MIDDLE of the day, when workloads are in full swing – cubicle call bells ringing incessantly, medication rounds running late, patients still waiting for showers at lunch time. Then there’s ED – patients arriving faster than room can be made for them, demand outstripping resources, the ever increasing high acuity of many patients, the complaints from patients and families having to sit in the crowded waiting room for hours and sorry Pete Chandler, there are STILL patients in corridors, on trolleys – regularly! This scenario is NOT a thing of the past! Every area is short staffed, the staff on the floor are working to their wits end. Some, (most) days, too tired to do anything after a shift or on days off. Listening to comments from colleagues, for some it’s coming at a huge cost – but where was the thankyou to staff for helping achieve your numbers targets? – I missed it. Already, derogatory comments towards medical and nursing staff are being made on Facebook and other social media as this latest article is shared by many. But then I am acutely aware that we have no right of response to these comments. I am passionate about my job, I came in to nursing to make a difference to the people I provide care for – call me delusional! Providing quality care is becoming increasingly difficult as we are constantly pushed to meet targets. You’re right Pete Chandler, “patient safety cannot be measured in dollars” – because sometimes that 6 hour target just cannot be met, the needs of the patient is greater than moving them on to simply meet a target. I for one, while ever mindful of targets, will not compromise my patient’s safety, or my right to practice in a safe manner and ignore their needs, deny them the care they need, just to meet statistical requirement. Good to hear that the “nerve centre is surprisingly calm” – have any of you taken a wander through the rest of the hospital on any given day lately? We, I thought were all part of the same team – this latest article just proves that maybe we’re not and only serves to reinforce that there’s still the culture of them and us, the rift is widening and this article I fear has done management no good at all.

  7. Well said, A Piesse.

  8. Feeling completely dissolutioned by yet another press release damning the staff at Hutt Hospital and the inevitable ongoing negative feedback on social media by the general public that Hutt Hospital is not a safe place to go when unwell. I absolutely feel for the family concerned, it should never have happened, but if we keep working in an understaffed environment and management keep flogging to death those that remain – this won’t be the last of this kind of publicity that Hutt Hospital gets. I wonder where the press releases are on the good work that we do? Where are the public thankyou’s that reflect the private, personal thankyou’s that I get every day at work? ‘I’m at the point of being embarrassed to tell people what I do for a living and where I work. This all beginning to feel personal.

  9. Pingback: Give us a hand | NZNO's Blog

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