More surgeries postponed in chocka Southland Hospital
Patients have been forced to wait for beds and more surgeries have been postponed at a full Southland Hospital.
Southern District Health Board senior staffer Heather Casey said more than 10 patients had to wait at the hospital for beds overnight on Sunday because all the available beds were full.
The patients continued to be assessed and monitored during the night, "but we appreciate this was less than ideal for those affected", she said.
Four non-urgent surgeries were subsequently postponed at the hospital on Monday to assist with managing the need for beds.
Casey apologised for any inconvenience this has may have caused to patients and thanked staff for their continued efforts during the "busy time".
Southland Hospital was experiencing high patient demand which was not unexpected over the winter months, Casey said.
The Emergency Department had increased its staffing levels for the winter period to manage the influx of patients.
In addition, two full time nurses were brought down from Tauranga for three weeks in April and May to support the surgical ward.
This was to ensure roster cover while the hospital was waiting for newly recruited nurses to begin, she said.
Jobs had been offered to three casual nurses and one had already started work, with the remaining two to begin within two weeks.
The SDHB is about to advertise for a further registered nurse position, she said.
The staffing levels and pressure being put on nurses at Southland Hospital has been in the spotlight in recent weeks.
Casey said two nurses in the medical ward and two in the maternity unit worked 12 hour shifts on Friday.
Last week, the SDHB said patient beds at Southland Hospital had been beyond 100 per cent capacity at times this winter, with some patients having to wait longer for surgery as a result.
When the hospital was full, patients waited longer in the emergency department and as outpatients before being admitted to beds, or they waited longer for surgery.
Elective surgeries sometimes had to be postponed at times of "high acute demand", she said.
The nurses union Southland organiser Lorraine Lobb said last week the union had concerns about the number of nurse vacancies at Southland Hospital and had raised them with the Southern DHB.
"The DHB informs us that they are currently advertising but are finding it difficult to attract experienced theatre nurses to Invercargill."
Casey said Southland Hospital provided safe and effective care with highly skilled staff, which was in line with national and international standards.
"All vacancies have been actively recruited into ... we continue to actively recruit and there is no barrier to doing so."
However, some staff were taking maternity leave and this was covered in different ways, including by staff volunteering to temporarily increase their hours and with fixed-term positions.
- The Southland Times