Govt told to act after watchdog finds inadequate levels of hospital staff

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Monday, 22 July 2019, 9:44AM
Sepsis is often not picked up early enough in or after pregnancy, a watchdog has found. (Photo / File)

A healthcare professional is demanding more specialists to fill gaps in the system, after a watchdog found women with a life-threatening condition weren't treated properly because of a lack of hospital staff. 

The investigations point to capacity problems extending beyond maternity services at Counties Manukau DHB, where problems like a lack of staff contributed to the recent death or stillbirth of three babies.

The Maternal Morbidity Working Group (MMWG) is notified when a woman is admitted to intensive care or a high dependency unit while pregnant, or within 42 days of the end of the pregnancy.

It recently looked into cases where pregnant or recently pregnant women had severe sepsis, a condition where the body's response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. 

The group reviewed 32 sepsis cases over 2016 and 2017. In half, severity of illness could have potentially been reduced if symptoms were picked up earlier, the Herald reports.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell told Mike Hosking the problem's not contained to one hospital.

"I think we're looking everywhere, the problem of under-staffing and under-resourcing."

He says the work is there, but the staff are not.

"Basically, we are not advertising enough positions. There's plenty of work to do, there's plenty of consequences if you don't have enough people doing that work."

He said the government needs to front up to the issue.

"The rate of acute patient growth in our public hospitals is increasing greater than the population growth and greater than the funding levels."


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