Not enough nurses to deal with NZ self-isolation covid cases, says union

NZ nurses shortage
Patients are "at risk" because there are not enough nurses even at this stage of the outbreak, says the nurses' union. Image: RNZ

RNZ News

Auckland is a thousand nurses short and lacks the capacity to deal with the amount of people self-isolating at home, according to New Zealand’s largest nurses’ union.

There are currently 85 covid-19 patients in hospital, including 11 in intensive care, and numbers are expected to climb.

The Nurses’ Organisation spokesperson Christina Couling said patients were at risk because there were not enough nurses even at this stage of the outbreak, and the system was under enormous strain.

She said it simply did not have the capacity to deal with the number of people who were self-isolating at home, with several hundred referrals to district health boards (DHBs) each day.

Another 201 covid-19 community cases were reported by the Ministry of Health today, including 15 in Waikato, one in Taranaki, four in Northland and the rest in Auckland.

The ministry said 109 of today’s cases were still to be linked. There have now been 755 unlinked cases in the past 14 days.

“We are very aware of the grief and hurt whānau who have recently lost loved ones to covid-19 are experiencing. This is a serious virus and none of us can afford to underestimate it,” Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay said at today’s media conference.

She urged people whose relatives were being cared for in the community and felt their condition was deteriorating to contact someone as soon as possible.

“Hospital care is free, and ambulance services are free for those with covid-19.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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