In the Media: May News

Covid 19 coronavirus: Unions challenge WorkSafe on infections at Waitākere Hospital

Radio New Zealand News, 28 May 2020. 

The Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the workers were exposed to a serious hazard doing their job - and if was not fair they were not being investigated just because it happened in the health sector.

How were healthcare workers infected with Covid-19 at work? The Ministry of Health doesn't know

New Zealand Herald, 28 May 2020. 

The Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said employers had obligations to keep their staff safe and the "critical" data should be easily accessible so it could be learned from.

"I'm just astounded actually to be quite honest. I guess I'm speechless because I'm disappointed. All along the catchcry has been 'Be safe, feel safe' and we've had to take comfort to that."

Primary care nurses reject 'insufficient' pay offer

Radio New Zealand News, 21 May 2020.

NZNO Industrial Adviser Chris Wilson said employers gave their final offer based on what they said they could afford, but it was clearly insufficient.

"We have advocated strongly for an offer that would put primary health care nurses on a salary par with their DHB counterparts, but this offer falls woefully short and accordingly our members have voted it down," she said in a statement.

Nurses reject continuation of pay gap

Waatea News, 21 May 2020.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial advisor Chris Wilson says despite approaches to the government by both unions and employers, the additional funding needed to achieve pay parity has not been forthcoming.

Investment in Health & Disabilities

Te Hiku, 20 May 2020.

Kaumātua Keelan Ransfield, as a fluent speaker of te reo, representing Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa/New Zealand Nurses Organisation on Te Hiku, a kaupapa Māori radio station run by Tai Tokerau iwi.  

DHB reports violent and aggressive behaviour towards staff

Stuff, 18 May 2020. Suzanne Rolls.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) professional nursing advisor Suzanne Rolls said she was disappointed at the level of violence nurses have to face on a day to day basis.

“This is endemic in our workplaces,” she said. "And we know from other researchers that violence and aggression against healthcare workers is under reported. So what we see in these figures probably isn’t a true reflection of what’s actually occurring.”

Covid 19 coronavirus: Inside the deadly St Margaret's rest home cluster

New Zealand Herald, 16 May 2020. 

NZ Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said nurses spoke up because they needed to feel safe.

"It certainly was different from the gear our nurses were used to using inside DHBs," she said of the situation at St Margaret's. "There should be some consistency in the type of PPE gear [used], in accessibility, the appropriateness and the training."

Nurses infected with Covid-19: Union calls for external investigation after review's findings

Radio New Zealand News, 14 May 2020. 

Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku welcomed the report, which she said highlighted the chaotic situation the nurses were working in.

"If these health workers have been exposed to a hazard like this then surely that should trigger a WorkSafe external investigation," she said.

Waitakere Hospital sorry over Covid nurses

Newsroom, 14 May 2020. 

Kate Weston, the acting associate professional services manager of the NZ Nurses Organisation, is pleased with how thorough the report is and how quickly it was carried out, but warns if the lessons aren’t implemented in all DHBs we could see further Covid spikes.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, as we come out of Level 3 into Level 2 and into winter, people are going to be sick with respiratory issues and we won’t know if they’re Covid-positive or not until they’re properly diagnosed, and we need to be able to manage that challenge. There could be more Covid spikes and we have to ensure the lessons we’ve learnt from this get applied.”

Waitakere: A cluster waiting to happen

Newsroom, 12 May 2020. 

NZ Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says management did not agree, and staff were required to work between A and B wings: “The Health and Safety at Work Act requires the elimination of risk where possible (so in that case, ensuring that staff aren’t moved between wings), and if that’s not possible, then you seek to minimise the risk. It’s our view that had the employer taken the concerns seriously, then the risk would have been eliminated in accordance with the requirements of the Act.”

Coronavirus: Five Waitākere staff test positive

Radio New Zealand News, 11 May 2020. 

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says it shows there's gaps in how we are protecting those who are on the frontlines caring for others. 

Nurses added to proposed law which imposes minimum prison sentences for assaults against healthcare workers

Stuff, 11 May 2020. 

On Monday, NZNO professional nursing advisor Suzanne Rolls told Stuff the organisation had been strongly advocating for the amendment, which was a significant step in ensuring nurses had a safe workplace.

“This is such an important step — we really needed the legislation, but we want more to be done to address the problem.”

Two Waitakere Hospital nurses testing positive for COVID-19 'not acceptable' - nurses union

Newshub, 11 May 2020. 

The nurses union kaiwhakahaere says it "is not acceptable". "This is a crisis situation. It's leaving our staff really anxious and wanting to get answers," Kerri Nuku says.

A total of 42 staff from the hospital are currently off work, and it's shortages like these the union says is making it hard to cope. "Shortages on resources and this put the whole system under enormous stress," Nuku says.

Hospital sent nurses all over after Covid work

Newsroom, 7 May 2020. 

Acting associate professional services manager Kate Weston says, “Despite concerns raised by the NZ Nurses’ Organisation when the patients were first admitted, staff were asked not only to move between the Covid-positive A wing and non-Covid B wing patient areas of the ward, but also to other non-Covid wards containing patients who were already unwell with other complex medical issues."

Coronavirus: Experts urge caution after zero new cases

Radio New Zealand, 5 May 2020. 

"A lot of work needs to be done around the planing of workforce. We've seen with the Waitakere situation with staff going between different wings and that's created increased risk of exposure," says Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku.  

Zero case day: A pat on the back, but no party yet, experts say

Radio New Zealand News, 5 May 2020.

The Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said all people who work in health should be proud of the zero case mark.

Dozens of nurses had contracted the disease, a side effect of being on the front line, and many more were exhausted, she said. If hospitals were to fulfil their need to be ready for another surge in cases, they need to look after their nurses while there was a lull, Nuku said.

Nurses on Waitakere Hospital's COVID ward say management put patients at risk

Newshub, 4 May 2020. 

Specially-fitted white N95 masks ran out, meaning staff had to resort to ill-fitting green ones.

"That's significant when we have heard for many, many weeks that the availability of quality PPE gear - that there is no problem with it," Nuku says.

But problems at Waitakere are exactly what staff say exist.

Three more Covid infections from Waitakere nurses

Newsroom, 4 May 2020. NZNO.

The Nurses Organisation is questioning the hospital's mixing up of staff across the Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 parts of the hospital, and says a staff representative warned the hospital management of the risk, recommending staff not work between wings to minimise any spread.

Six elderly patients treated on 'presumption' of having coronavirus after nurses work in both virus-free and COVID-19 wards

Newshub, 4 May 2020.  

The Waitematā DHB says it's called the affected families. But at this point, there has been no apology for putting staff in that situation, something that NZ Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku believes should happen.

"Staff deserve an apology from the management and we need to see there are constructive ways moving forward. That it's not just lip service but action in the right direction," Nuku says.

Covid-19 coronavirus: Waitakere Hospital changes protocols after nurses air Covid-19 concerns

New Zealand Herald, 4 May 2020.

The NZ Nurses' Organisation is part of the review into the nurses' infections, along with the Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Waikato DHB.

"What we've got to see is the learnings that we take from this external investigation are implemented so this type of thing does not happen tomorrow, in a week's time or in two months' time," Nuku said.

Waitakere: 57 staff stood down amid safety claims

Newsroom, 3 May 2020.

“That is a lot of staff, a lot of families and a lot of bubbles,” says Kerri Nuku from the NZ Nurses Organisation. “Patients are also very angry that the system they trusted to look after them has let them down.”

A toll of 11: Inside the deadly Rosewood rest home cluster

Otago Daily Times, 2 May 2020. 

Nurses' union NZNO welcomed the Ministry of Health review after members concerns over access to PPE and proper training

DHBs defend charging 'low' car park rates for hospital workers despite calls for no fees during Level 3

TVNZ, 2 May 2020.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says it is disappointing that Auckland, Waitematā and Northland DHBs have started charging health workers again for parking after the country moved down alert levels, whereas other DHBs having not re-introduced such changes.

"In a time where we’re being asked to act with kindness, this decision feels opportunistic and a little bit mean-spirited," she says. 

"This will worsen the pressure felt by our already stressed and fatigued frontline staff and they still need every bit of support and acknowledgement possible."

Coronavirus: DHBs slammed for charging health workers for parking

Stuff, 1 May 2020. 

Kerri Nuku says, "Just because DHBs are returning to business as usual as we move into rahui level three, that doesn’t mean Covid-19 is any less of a challenge for our frontline people."

She said free parking should be offered to all healthcare essential workers, especially now with concerns about an increase in workloads as people with non coronavirus-related health issues seek treatment. 

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