The Bulletin: Nightmare dangers for nurses

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Dangers faced by nurses explodes into focus, teachers look to the Middle East for better money, and new research backs benefits of cycleways.

A couple of high profile examples have put the threats faced by health workers into focus. It’s a deeply serious issue that has been bubbling away for a long time, and has now become an impossible to ignore aspect of the job faced by those on the front line.

That’s particularly the case for mental health nurses at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch, who Radio NZ reports say their DHB bosses are out of touch with the reality of their job. It follows two awful incidents, one of which resulted in serious burns and permanent scarring for a nurse from a boiling water attack, and a stabbing. Nurses say they’re furious that the DHB hasn’t committed to any immediate action, like adding more security to the most at-risk areas.

But it’s not just a problem in mental health facilities – it’s much more widespread. Hawke’s Bay Today reported earlier in the year that over the first half of the year, there were 20 physical assaults and 42 verbal assaults on staff across the DHB’s area. And more often than not, those were directed at nurses. Up at Middlemore in Auckland, emergency department nurses have started wearing personal safety alarms on their body, in case they are attacked.

The causes are multifaceted, but the sense that they aren’t being taken seriously is pervasive. That’s what comes out really strongly in this first person guest post from a nurse on The Spinoff, who points something out that should be so obvious for any job – she shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of thing at work. Nobody should.

A lot of it comes back to simply whether there are enough nurses on the job at any one time. You might remember during the recent strikes one of the key demands nurses were making was getting safe staffing levels – partly that was due to burnout from a high stress job stretching the workforce thin, and partly that was about literally having the required number of people on hand when situations happen. And an accord was signed earlier in the year on this, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to lower the danger faced by these vital frontline workers.


Teachers are increasingly turning to the Middle East for a more lucrative career, reports Newshub. It’s not unusual for in-demand professionals to look overseas at opportunities of course, but recruiters say it has really ramped up recently. It comes amid a drive by the government to recruit teachers from overseas, with around 700 primary and secondary school candidates now vetted.


A story perhaps from the ‘water is wet’ files – a study has found that investments in walkways and cycleways results in a decrease in people driving, reports Newstalk ZB. I’m probably being a bit overly sarcastic here, because it is useful research to have hard data on, given that according to Otago Uni public health researcher Dr Caroline Shaw those sorts of investments give good value for money. The study also found examples of a 1% drop in carbon emissions as a result – not a large number, but a whole lot better than nothing.


Part two of Jessica McAllen’s fantastic series on the mental health inquiry has been published on StuffAnd this piece looks into the less well understood areas of the system, which don’t necessarily see the light of day of public awareness. Once again, it’s told directly through the stories of those affected, often (and notably) in areas outside of the main centres. Meanwhile, the findings of the inquiry will be released today, reports Radio NZ, but the formal government response won’t be until March next year.


Recycling won’t save NZ from the plastic plague, says a new report into the issue covered by NewshubRather, unnecessary plastic – especially packaging – simply has to be eliminated from use altogether. New Zealand is among the worst countries in the world in terms of waste, generating around  25,000kgs of plastic rubbish every day.


There’s a deeply concerning ODT front page today for all those in Dunedin who enjoy drinking water. The pipes that supply the city are reportedly ‘hanging by a thread,’ with two important pipes now out of action after the floods a few weeks ago. Repairs running into the high hundreds of thousands of dollars will be carried out over summer, because if any more pipes go down it could leave the city with just a week or two worth of water.


Retirement commissioner Diane Maxwell has been stood down while bullying claims are investigated, reports Newsroom. She’s on leave while a State Services Commission inquiry gets carried out, which will look at the governance of the organisation as a whole, not just the allegations against her. Minister Kris Fa’afoi has confirmed that the role will go out to market when her tenure ends in the middle of next year.


National leader Simon Bridges has backed MP Maggie Barry, who is under pressure over allegations of bullying staff. He told Radio NZ that she has his support, and that Parliamentary Services investigations have not come to the conclusion that she bullied staffers.

Just a clarification on this from yesterday – I mentioned about the audio recordings of the MP that it was hard to see how they constituted evidence of bullying. And they didn’t, but that wasn’t really the point of why they were included in the story. Rather, the recordings give a contradictory impression to statements Maggie Barry made to Parliamentary Services about how she behaves towards and around staff and others.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons writes about the role small countries like NZ can play in preventing a disaster. Cordelia Lockett analyses the new surge in direct action on climate change, in opposition to weak efforts from those in charge. Madeleine Chapman investigates why the top rating Mike Hosking Breakfast plummets down the ranks in Rotorua. And Joseph Nunweek ranks every Air NZ safety video, and in my opinion gets it completely and horribly wrong.


Best Journalism of 2018: How could we possibly go past this piece, for its sheer breathtaking scope and power? Published by Stuff, it’s called New Zealand Made/ Nā Niu Tīreni, and it covers the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the often overlooked events that came afterwards.

It is a piece of work that deserves to live on for many many years to come, and was suggested by Dr Katrina McChesney from the University of Waikato. I completely agree with her assessment of it – “it tackles history that many NZers either are unaware of or have misconceptions about, and it does so with really good use of visuals, interactives, personal stories and historical facts.”


The Wellington Phoenix are up in arms over the use of the Video Assistant Referee systemafter a costly and controversial red card, reports Newshub. They’re also claiming that less experienced referees are being packed off to officiate Wellington games, while the best refs are invariably only used for Melbourne and Sydney fixtures. The Phoenix have had an okay-ish start to the season, playing reasonable football, but still in 9th place on the table.

Speaking of the Nix, have a hoon on this twitter thread from the Yellow Fever’s Dale Warburton. It’s every single goal banged in by Roy Krishna over his career with the club, and is exactly as cool as that sounds – very.


From our partners: Lithium-ion batteries are magnificent feats of engineering and vital for renewable energy. But if we’re not careful with them, they’ll create enormous environmental problems, writes Vector Senior Sustainability Advisor Juhi Shareef.


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