DHB internal email system back

AMANDA PARKINSON AND WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 15:22 25/02/2014

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Internal communications at Southern hospitals have been restored. 

Staff were able to access email communications at 3pm after a server crashed at 1am on Monday morning.

Staff in the southern district had been operating without email for the past 36 hours but said patient records and access to lab results had been functional since 1pm yesterday.

Hospitals in the Southern region experienced the internal communications drama after a server crashed yesterday and Dunedin MPs said yesterday the city's health services were in crisis after nurses stopped work.

Southern District Health Board medical director of patient services Richard Bunton said fallout from yesterday's IT failure could have delayed elective surgeries today.

The district-wide failure created chaos for staff at Dunedin, Southland and Queenstown hospitals, Dr Bunton said.

"We share a common server with Dunedin Hospital, which did make some services harder ... lab results were coming in over fax or hard copy, for example" he said.

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.

Ms 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.

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

He said the 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," Mr Clark said.

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

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

Dr Bunton said Mr Clark's "uninformed" comments regarding the IT failure's capacity to cause patient risk were "scaremongering" and "scandalous".  He conceded the crash had slowed processes down but there was no patient danger, he said.

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

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

- The Southland Times

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