INDEPENDENT NEWS

Unsafe Hospital Complaints To Be Investigated

Published: Mon 15 Nov 1999 10:29 AM
Health is firmly back on the election agenda following the sacking of a Hokitika nurse last week after a heated discussion over unsafe patient and staff conditions. And in Oamaru the Prime Minster is promising to investigate claims that Timaru Hospital is unsafe. John Howard reports.
Health, staff and patient safety and care is firmly back on the election agenda following two unrelated incidents in the past week.
The Hokitika incident relates to Coast Health Care Ltd sacking a Seaview Psychiatric Hospital enrolled nurse last Monday after heated discussions with supervisors over unsafe staff levels and a dangerous workplace.
The staff member is now supported by a petition from 17 other staff alleging the same thing over a long-period of time . Coast Health Care Ltd says it has received a copy of the petition but will deal with it internally. 12 other staff have also provided references in support of the sacked staff member.
The staff member is also a key member of the Hokitika volunteer fire brigade and search and rescue and they have also written in support.
The Seaview staff member was involved in a situation where he was the only male nurse on duty at the hospital, and when the emergency alarm was sounded he was expected to stop caring for his patients, drop what he was doing and sprint 400 metres to the intensive care unit to assist a female nurse whose life could be in danger from an attack by a violent patient.
The union, the PSA, is now involved in the staff member's personal grievance case.
The police have also confirmed they are sometimes called to assist staff to deal with stressed patients.
Despite the petition and personal grievance claim, Coast Health Care Ltd chief executive, Sue Belsham, says positive relationships with staff and patients are being maintained.
Meanwhile, at an election meeting in Otaio, the Prime Minister agreed to investigate claims that Timaru Hospital is unsafe after a nurse caused a stir at an election meeting at the rural South Canterbury town.
The Prime Minister promised to ask the Ministry of Health to look into the issue saying the claims made at the meeting were "very serious allegations."
Nurse, Kathryn Wigley said at the meeting safety and low staff numbers were now a "constant" concern for herself and other nurses. "It's very unsafe....registered nurses are leaving in droves and they can't get anyone to work. They are bringing in nurse aides who are totally untrained."
Like the Hokitika nuse who was sacked, she had previously raised her concerns with hospital management but allegedly nothing was done.
ends

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