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Working together: DHBs sign accord with nurses

News from DHBs
District Health Boards say the Effective Implementation Accord signed today is an important part of addressing staffing and workforce issues at the heart of the current negotiations with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

The Accord was signed at Parliament this morning by DHBs, the NZNO and the Ministry of Health and spokesperson Jim Green says it’s significant that it was witnessed by Health Minister Dr David Clark.

“The Accord spells out how we’ll work together to ensure safe staffing levels for nurses and midwives.

“Most importantly, it sets out the reporting and review process to ensure the Accord stays on track – something that will be monitored by the Ministry and overseen by the Minister.

“We want to give NZNO and its members the confidence that DHBs will deliver on commitments about staffing and resourcing so nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants can provide the care required.”

Mr Green says while the revised offer now being considered by NZNO members provides $38 million for immediate recruitment, the Accord sets out a wider process for making sure there are enough people to deliver patient care.

“DHBs have been inconsistent in their approach to this part of workforce planning, and the Accord is designed to give certainty and create accountability for addressing the key issue of safe staffing and workloads.

“This is key to the offer that will also provide significant pay rises, with the Accord as part of a wider in initiative to attract, develop and retain our vital nurses and midwives in their careers,” says Mr Green.

News from ASMS
“Health Minister David Clark is to be commended for brokering an accord on safe nurse staffing levels in public hospitals,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

“This is a very welcome initiative from a Minister who clearly wants to make a real difference for patients and health professionals.”

Mr Powell was commenting on the Health Minister’s announcement that an accord had been reached between district health boards, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Ministry of Health (https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister-brokers-accord-safe-nurse-staffing).

“Nurses have been saying for some time that their workloads are unsustainable and are taking a toll on them personally and professionally. The accord won’t be an instant fix, but it does recognise that DHBs, Government and nurses working in public hospitals have a common interest in addressing issues of shortages and overwork, and it provides a mechanism to deal with these issues.”

Mr Powell says senior doctors and dentists working in public hospitals have also been dealing with longstanding shortages and resource constraints from years of under-funding of the health system, and they too would welcome a similar initiative to deal with these issues.

In an address to the Hospital and Community Dentistry conference in Queenstown at the weekend, he highlighted some of the adverse effects of these issues on hospital specialists (https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Address-to-Hospital-and-Community-Dentistry-Conference-28-July-2018_170267.1.pdf).

ASMS research has recorded high levels of burnout (50%) among hospital specialists, along with high levels of presenteeism (working while sick, including working while infectious), and with 25% of specialists surveyed intended to leave DHB employment in the next five years.

“The very real question at the heart of these issues, for both nurses and hospital specialists, is how can they be expected to look after their own health and well-being while also ensuring safe, high quality care for patients when they’re continually working under such pressure,” says Mr Powell.

“If David Clark was to also require DHBs to ensure safe staffing levels for hospital specialists, this would be a positive move from a Government keen to strengthen the quality of patient centred care. We look forward to discussing this further with him.”

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