Nursing hours explain turnover and high-stress culture

A staff survey supports concerns nursing staff at Dunedin Hospital are under increasing pressure and that the emergency department is in a critical state, says Labour’s Associate Health Spokesperson David Clark. 

“An ED nursing survey at Dunedin found that 80 per cent of staff had worked more than their contracted hours in the previous month, while 43 of the 54 respondents indicated they had worked more than the hours required in their full-time contract.

“Twenty per cent of those who worked additional hours reported they worked the equivalent of an extra day per fortnight. More worryingly, some estimated they worked close to an extra week’s hours each fortnight.

“The vast majority of nurses indicated that they worked the extra hours because they wanted to support colleagues, although a full quarter said they felt pressured to work, or felt guilty if they didn’t. 

“The fact this increased stress comes as a direct result of cost-cutting pressures brought about by a lack of Government funding to the Southern DHB doesn’t make it any less real.  Just 12 per cent of staff said they work over their contracted hours because they enjoy and or want to work.

“ED work is incredibly stressful. The staff care hugely about their work, but many are exhausted, and the pressure put on them to keep giving is wearing them down.  Sooner or later mistakes will happen, and it could cost a life,” David Clark said.