Nurses‘ union calls for action at Hawke’s Bay Hospital

Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Hastings. - Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

The nurses' union is calling for urgent action over working conditions at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

New Zealand Nurses' Union has written to Hawke's Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) asking it to address health and safety concerns repeatedly raised by nurses, which it says have been ignored by management.

Concerns include understaffing and patient violence and aggression.

The union's professional nursing adviser, Anne Brinkman, said some staff were coming off their shifts in tears.

She said many were seeking alternative employment, at a time when recruitment and retention was already a problem for HBDHB.

Ms Brinkman said managers urgently needed to ensure health and safety obligations were met.

Earlier this week 50 senior doctors at the hospital warned board members that chronic shortages of beds, staff and delays in elective surgeries were putting patients' safety at risk.

The consultants called an urgent meeting with the board last week and met with the chair Kevin Atkinson and four other board members, to speak out about what was going wrong.

The list included concerns about hospital capacity, patient flows and long waiting times for elective surgeries resulting in more complex cases and longer stays in hospital.

Board member Barbara Arnott said while HBDHB was well aware of pressures within the hospital the meeting was a wake-up call.

"ED talked about going from 30,000 presentations to the Emergency Department to 50,000 presentations in a very short amount of time and that pressure means electives fall off the bottom."