Sick leave and strikes could lead to disruptions of services at Nelson Hospital in the coming months.
Nelson Hospital general manager of clinical services, Pat Davidsen, says sick leave is on the rise among staff.
“Anecdotally we are seeing considerable sick leave among many clinical and non-clinical staff currently, as winter illnesses increase in number.”
He says that at times sick leave results in cancellation of services, including postponing and rescheduling surgery. However, he states this is the absolute last option and the hospital has contingency plans in place to cover many situations.
“The length of time for the rescheduled appointment varies, depending on the theatre team’s availability and those bookings already made,” he says.
Nurses last week also voted in favour of three strikes to be held, for 24 hours on 29 and 30 July and again on 9 and 10 September, and another eight-hour strike on 19 August.
This follows an earlier strike in June which saw services reduced for an eight-hour period.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation lead advocate, David Wait, says the strike action is needed to achieve “the recognition and working conditions that will ensure nursing remains a viable profession”.
“We are facing a national health crisis in terms of safe staffing, recruitment and retention; and the working conditions our members face can no longer be endured and that’s why our issues matter.”
Meanwhile, Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer, Dr Nick Baker, says there has been an increase in respiratory illness in the region among pre-school children and infants.
There were 48 presentations to the Emergency Department and 14 admissions from 30 June to 7 July.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is a respiratory illnesses, with symptoms that include a runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing. It can also cause more serious illness such as narrowing airways and pneumonia.
The advice to parents is to call your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) if you are concerned or your child’s symptoms are worsening, and not to return to childcare, school or work until all symptoms have resolved. Nelson Hospital is restricting visitors and asking anyone who is unwell to not visit and to wait until they are symptom free for 48 hours.