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Give us a hand

washing_handsThis blog post was written by an experienced NZNO delegate at Hutt Hospital.

Just when I thought the morale at Hutt Hospital couldn’t sink any lower and staff had had enough of negative reporting, last week saw yet another damming media report.  Hutt Hospital staff do not wash their hands as much as other hospitals, earning the unenviable accolade of being the dirtiest hospital in the country.

As a registered nurse at Hutt Hospital, I felt personally affronted, not only by the report which I felt beggared belief, but also by the derogatory, insensitive and extremely hurtful social media comments that resulted. I take my personal hygiene seriously. I want to reduce risk to my patients and reduce the risk to myself. I do not want to inflict unwanted bugs on my family.

I was hoping Management would respond quickly to the article in our defence (and surely they must?), providing reasons which could have contributed to the findings and reassuring the general public and staff that processes are in place to change these worrying statistics.

I’m also disappointed there has been no public apology about the article that accused nursing staff of ‘hiding beds and manipulating Trend Care data’ – albeit we were reassured management were misquoted in this article but the public are still waiting to hear this.

I’ve worked at Hutt Hospital in varying roles for the past 13 years and am concerned about the low morale. I’ve seen colleagues having full blown anxiety attacks, staff in tears because they feel at their wits end and “just can’t do this anymore”.  Many staff have already left and the rate of resignations is climbing and picking up speed. In the meantime we’re constantly being told that we need to work harder, smarter, faster.

This all comes hot on the heels of being told last week through the media that DHB CEOs been given a huge pay rise – up to 48%! Many view these pay rises as obscene and totally immoral in today’s economic climate.

We can’t go on like this. I hope HVDHB start implementing  strategies to support staff to be able to provide the high level of care we want for our patients.

 


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$180,000 pay rise? Yes please!

money_graph_pointing_upYou’ll remember before Christmas NZNO started talks with DHBs about negotiating a new collective agreement.

Our negotiating team is well prepared with evidence of how overworked, under staffed and stressed our hospitals wards are, and how inadequate planning with too few staff has the potential for poor outcomes for patients.

None of this is news. It’s the reality of nursing in a sick health system, and the solutions are clear, available and achievable.

We’ve got evidence that shows when a hospital has the right skill mix of staff in the right place at the right time, providing the right care with the right resources, everyone wins. Patients receive better outcomes and nurses have satisfaction in providing better and more timely care.

We all know that when you’re treated respectfully at work and remunerated fairly, when you can take leave to rest and rejuvenate, when you’re able to actually take a day off when you’re sick – everyone benefits. And when I say everyone, I mean staff, patients, the hospital, the budget, the health system.

What is news, though, is hearing that most DHB chief executives received pay rises of between $10,000 and $180,000 (in some cases, pay increases of up to 45%) in the last financial year!*

It feels pretty demoralising to know how much DHB chiefs are valued and how little value is placed on their staff. NZNO members working in DHBs are expecting a paltry pay offer of 0.6 – 0.7%.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

I expect if we asked each DHB why their chief executive received such a large pay rise, they would have an answer down pat. And I suspect, if we asked them how much they think their staff is worth, we’d receive a heartfelt statement of gratitude for the wonderful work we do and a sob story about how they wish they could pay us what we deserve but….

Belonging to NZNO is a good way to start making a difference. If we want a different ending to this story, we are going to need to write it ourselves.

Our team will be heading back into negotiations soon. There are 10 of them. There are 48,000 of us!

If we work together, take the hard decisions when required, stand strong beside each other, and let the whole country know what we need and WHY – we’ll get the outcome we, and every patient we care for, deserves.

*Pay scales for DHB chief executives are set by the State Services Commission.