Furious nurses stage walkout

WILMA MCCORKINDALE AND AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2014

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Nurses stopped work at Dunedin Hospital yesterday, apparently fed up with issues that are undermining clinical safety - just one of many signs the city's health services are in crisis, Dunedin MPs say.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has called a health crisis meeting in light of the nurses' concerns and the concerns of other health professionals and patients.

Curran, who with North Dunedin MP David Clark has organised the meeting for Friday, said the nurses' action was alarming, triggered by fears about core services being underfunded and under resourced, nursing vacancies not being filled and clinical safety being compromised.

Clark said the Government was putting so much pressure on district health boards they were in survival mode.

He said an IT system collapse at Dunedin Hospital yesterday morning had lasted more than 12 hours.

"The hospital's system fell over at 1am and was still was not working at 1pm. It is absolute chaos."

"Patient lives are at risk. Clinical leaders have been unable to access lab results, clinical notes, patient contact details, diaries and operating rosters, let alone communication tools like email."

It was symptomatic of cost-cutting across the health sector, Clark said.

"Tragically, this leap backwards will cause great anxiety to ill patients and those looking after them, unable to access critical test results.

"Important surgery and other medical interventions will be postponed. Worse, it may cost lives."

Southern DHB medical director of patient services Dick Bunton said Clark's "uninformed" comments regarding the IT failure's capacity to cause patient risk were "scaremongering" and "scandalous".

Bunton conceded the crash had slowed processes down but there was no patient danger, he said.

In the meantime, the hospital had reverted to its old paper-based systems.

Southern DHB chairman Joe Butterfield could not be reached for comment.

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- The Southland Times

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