Why are we still figuring out hospital visitation policy?

It is hard to believe that, five months after Delta hit New Zealand arrived and after five weeks of lockdown, that the visitor policies of Auckland’s three district health boards are yet to be figured out, says National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“This is another example of squandered time from when Delta first arrived in New Zealand in April to setting consistent hospital policy. What has the Government being doing in that time, apart from being distracted by the top ‘priorities’ such as health system restructuring, cycle bridges and Mongrel Mob methamphetamine programmes?

“We need an explanation as to why Auckland’s three DHBs all had different visitor policies when Delta arrived. How can a visitor policy during an infectious pandemic vary between hospitals no more than a few kilometres apart?

“The Government has been so removed from the situation that it has taken on-the-ground workers to persuade Wellington that the visitation policy at Auckland Hospital is not fit for purpose.

“Nursing safety has been a frequently-reported issue around visitor policy and other settings in the Auckland DHBs, so it is a concern for Andrew Little to write that the Ministry of Health ‘has not received any communications around nursing staff safety in the Auckland district health boards during the current coronavirus outbreak’.

“How can this be true? Clearly the Minister is tone deaf and more interested in health restructuring than the safety of nursing staff.

“All Auckland DHBs need to have a consistent visitor policy that is informed by health staff and well-monitored and funded.

“New Zealanders are already paying a high price for this Government’s navel-gazing.”

You can see the Ministers response below to a Written Parliamentary Question:

Question: Did the Minister receive, see or read any communications expressing concerns around nursing staff safety in the Auckland DHBs during the current coronavirus outbreak, listed by date, title, author and audience ?

Reply: I receive a high volume of correspondence from a range of writers, including individual members of the public and organisations, which often canvas a range of topics. I am advised that the Ministry of Health has not received any communications around nursing staff safety in the Auckland district health boards during the current coronavirus outbreak.

(Written Question 38860, 10 September 2021)