Hygiene problems at Wellington Hospital blamed on under-funding

Media release from Assn of Salaried Medical Specialists
“Poor hygiene standards and other shortcomings uncovered by a Ministry of Health audit at Capital & Coast Health District Health Board are examples of many hidden failings in our public hospitals nationwide,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

Mr Powell was referring to the audit obtained under the Official Information Act and reported by the Dominion Post today.

“Nationally we are seeing a rundown of public hospital services caused by continuing government underfunding as they face growing service demands (including from government) and increasing costs.”

“Circumstances vary between DHBs but, to one to degree or another, bad hidden stories exist in all of them.”

“The government and health bosses are too focused on spin and image while covering up the shortcomings in their facilities and increasing pressures on staff, who are continually expected to do more. For senior doctors, who have been coping with entrenched staff shortages, the mounting workloads and poor working conditions are becoming untenable and increasingly unsafe.”

“The Government and DHBs need to understand very quickly that attempts to do things on the cheap come at a high price,” concluded Mr Powell.

News release from NZ Labour Party
Hygiene standards will continue to fall by the wayside until Health Minister Tony Ryall eases the pressure on hospitals to meet his political tick box targets, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

The Ministry of Health has ordered Capital and Coast Health Board to improve standards in several areas after poor hygiene practices and other shortcomings were found during an audit at Wellington Hospital.

“Health funding has been in a stranglehold since 2009, with annual allocations under Mr Ryall failing to keep up with costs. In the end something has to give. District health boards are doing their best, but they can only ration their funding in so many ways.

“Most are in fear of a controlling and bullying minister. If his priorities are not met Chairs, CEOs and even front line staff are bawled out personally. The result of that behaviour, combined with a shortage of cash and narrow targets, is boards looking for savings and short cuts to satisfy the minister.

“Right now lessons learned over decades are in danger of being side-lined, and that’s something the constant flow of ‘more good news’ from the government can’t bandage over.”



  1. Capital and Coast DHB, 4. February 2014, 8:24

    In January 95% of patients seen in Wgtn Hosp ED were admitted, discharged or transferred within six hours [via Twitter]

  2. James, 4. February 2014, 19:11

    Here’s a piece of political sarcasm, and a possibly doable policy proposal:

    irrationing (n): planning to meet a need that nobody in charge will measure

    The place where medical need could be measured is GPs, to whom patients are sent for active review. They will be able to report easily on their total numbers of registered patients, because it’s tied to funding. Some of them will be able to report easily on their total numbers of patients waiting for assessment and under active review, and that could be extrapolated to the rest.

    If a DHB collated these reports, there would be systematic errors because of:
    - GPs with difficult reporting
    - patients without a GP

    It would be a brave DHB that measured something which indicated its inadequacy, which the minister didn’t want measured.

    Stress on that measurement, at the expense of all others, would continue to contribute to the do-it-badly-but-cheap problems that seem to be being discovered.


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