Sue Moroney: 'You can't sugar-coat it'
Hamilton-based Labour list MP Sue Moroney, who worked for the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation before entering Parliament, said the feedback that the Waikato Times received reflected her own grave concerns for the hospital's nurses.
"The continued underfunding of the health system is now starting to take effect. For the first couple of years DHBs were able to shift their budgets around to accommodate it but now, after five years, we have got to a critical stage.
"You can't sugar-coat it. Nurses working too many shifts in a row is just unsafe. Through no fault of their own they will make mistakes.
"The other thing is that there is a climate of fear among staff, where it does not feel safe for them to approach the management with their concerns. And we also know that in some of the wards there is a culture of bullying and that has to stop."
Health board chairman Bob Simcock said he was aware that people had intimated that some nurses were being bullied and any such allegations would be thoroughly investigated.
"Nurse numbers at Waikato are relative to other DHBs, and these are fairly stable across the country.
"I don't know the details but whatever the loads are they are comparable to other DHBs," Simcock said.
Within the next month the board would begin a staff survey, which would allow for anonymous feedback, he said.
"It's something that was planned prior to my arrival and we have been holding off on it for a while, but that will be going ahead in the next month or so. I'm very committed to using whatever information we get from staff and where things can be fixed, I can give you a personal commitment we will do something about it."
That survey and a review being conducted by the Ministry of Health at Mr Simcock's request should provide "a very good picture" of staffing levels.
Simcock said "fishing" questions such as the Times' request for information from health board staff naturally drew responses from the disgruntled, "but some of it may be an honest reflection of reality".
"Our resources are going to be limited no matter what happens. It doesn't matter whether the Government gives us $100 million tomorrow, it will be consumed very quickly and it won't change the overall situation much."