Christchurch’s Hillmorton Hospital plagued by safety issues

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Health authorities are concerned a spike in meth-related presentations are adding pressure on already stretched mental ...


Health authorities are concerned a spike in meth-related presentations are adding pressure on already stretched mental health services at Christchurch’s Hillmorton Hospital.

 Safety issues including patients lighting fires, assaults and drug use are plaguing Christchurch’s acute mental health inpatient units.

Hillmorton Hospital staff say they struggle to keep everyone safe in wards overcrowded with seriously unwell people.

“It’s not a controlled environment anymore,” a staff member said last week.

In December, a patient lit a fire, which sent four people to hospital with smoke inhalation and led to a 30 minute building evacuation. A month later the facility was evacuated again after another patient-lit fire.

Hillmorton has been running at or over capacity for over two years. In December, occupancy was at 102 per cent, meaning patients had to “sleepover” elsewhere 41 times. Occupancy was at 97 per cent in January, above the optimal level of 85 per cent.

The board meeting agenda for last week said: “Along with increased occupancy rates [at Hillmorton], the level of acuity is very high. A high number of methamphetamine related presentations are being experienced. This increase is new, concerning and proving to be challenging.”

“Such high occupancy is unsustainable and does not allow for increased demand over time,” the agenda said.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) general manager mental health services Toni Gutschlag said there were “some small fires recently which were extinguished promptly”.

Four people were taken to Christchurch Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after the December fire, she said.

Gutschlag could not give data on how many people presented with drug issues as it was not recorded separately.

A staff member, speaking anonymously for fear of repercussions, said patients were not getting the care they needed in overcrowded wards.

The source said they often saw nurses looking shell-shocked, breaking down in tears at work and reluctant to leave their office because they were scared.

Patients were also frightened, they said.

“It’s the law of the jungle there. It’s not a controlled environment anymore.”

It was not unusual to have half a dozen police staff on site to assist.

Some unwell patients walked out of the units and used drugs and alcohol before getting picked up by police and brought back in a state that was difficult to manage, the staff member said.

Police were getting frustrated with being called out repeatedly and bringing patients back to the wards, the source said.

Another staff member, speaking anonymously, confirmed safety issues at Hillmorton Hospital had worsened over the last year, with regular serious assaults occurring.

The source said staff had raised concerns repeatedly about safety but felt they had not been addressed by management.

“Morale is very low.”

In December, a patient who was not getting the attention they needed lit a “large fire”, they said.

Stuff reported last year that burnt-out mental health staff at Hillmorton went to work anxious and afraid for the safety of themselves and their patients, with assaults by patients escalating to an average of more than two a day.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation organiser John Miller said the union had received calls from several distressed staff in recent months and was working on putting together a list of concerns and potential solutions to present to the CDHB next month.

He said the service was working “to its absolute maximum”.

“When you regularly have over 90 patients in care in a 63 bed facility there’s got to be problems,” he said.

The units were short-staffed at the end of last year and many new graduates had filled these positions, he said.

Gutschlag said all staff received fire training and evacuation exercises happened every six months,

“Our staff work exceptionally hard, to provide the best care possible in some very challenging circumstances and we are continuously looking for ways to make the environment as safe as possible for consumers and staff.”

 – Stuff


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West Coast braces for Cyclone Gita, state of emergency considered

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A state of emergency could be declared on the West Coast as early as Monday evening if predictions about the intensity of Cyclone Gita hold true.

The storm, which caused havoc in Tonga last week, has the South Island in its “firing line”. Its centre is predicted to make landfall in the northwest of the island late Tuesday.

And West Coast residents “getting their lives back together” after the devastation of ex-tropical cyclone Fehi a fortnight ago could be among those worst affected.

The predicted path of Cyclone Gita, according to MetService.


The predicted path of Cyclone Gita, according to MetService.

MetService issued a severe weather watch on Sunday, warning of a “period of highly impactful severe weather”, including gale force winds, heavy rain and coastal inundation for central New Zealand.

The West Coast Regional Council chief executive along with the mayors of the Buller, Grey and Westland districts and Civil Defence will meet at 5pm on Monday to assess the latest predictions.

Paula Dobbs' home on Snodgrass Rd, north of Westport, was flooded when ex-tropical cyclone Fehi smashed into the West ...


Paula Dobbs’ home on Snodgrass Rd, north of Westport, was flooded when ex-tropical cyclone Fehi smashed into the West Coast earlier this month.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said “we want to wait another day so we shore up more reliable data”, but if “it still looks bad tomorrow night and we get Cyclone Ita-type winds, we will make a call [on the state of emergency] one way or another”.

“We don’t want to be alarmist, but we want to be safe rather than sorry.”

The remnants of Cyclone Ita struck New Zealand in April 2014. Winds peaked at 130kmh in Westport, the Buller District was left without power, and 39 homes in the Grey District were left uninhabitable.

WeatherWatch head forecaster Phillip Duncan said Gita was “bigger” and “more powerful” than ex-tropical cyclone Fehi, which caused extensive damage when it hit the West Coast early February.

Modelling showed the storm sitting off Cook Strait by 3pm Tuesday. It was due to hit the South Island directly by 9pm, bringing with it sustained gale-force winds in places of 60-80kmh from Taranaki to Westport, Duncan said.

“Localised gusts could climb over 150kmh in exposed rural areas, possibly higher. Damaging and destructive gusts are possible in all those main West Coast towns,” he said.

More than 100 millimetres of rain could fall within 24 hours in regions where MetService had heavy rain watches in place, including Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson, parts of the West Coast, Wellington and Horowhenua.

West Coast Regional Council chief executive Mike Meehan said there was a “heightened awareness” of the risk posed by a storm system like Gita in the wake of Fehi, which caused 32 homes to be red-stickered and 27 to be yellow-stickered in the Buller district.

“If we have a reiteration of that when [people are] trying to have builders do restoration work it just sets them back again,” Buller District Mayor Garry Howard said.

Granity man Ken Richards had “four inches” of water come through his Torea St home of eight years during ex-tropical cyclone Fehi. It was now yellow-stickered, and “unliveable”.

The water-damaged carpets had only just been removed on Thursday, and now the West Coast was – yet again – bracing for another blow. But Richards was stoic, saying “it’s just nature, isn’t it?”

“You can’t do anything about it, so you just cop it. You’ve just got to cop it on the chin. We’ll see where we are at the end of it – there’s no use crying over spilled milk, that doesn’t fix anything”.

Richards, who was renting a house in nearby Hector while he worked through his insurance claim, said the forecast gale-force winds were a concern. “There’ll be trees down, roof iron flying – I guarantee it”.

Other local authorities around the South Island had also issued warnings ahead of Cyclone Gita. Christchurch was expected to get between 50mm to 75mm of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Council contractors were checking the stormwater network on Sunday, while residents in flood-prone areas were advised to take “all the usual precautions”, a council spokeswoman said.

Civil Defence and Emergency Management director Sarah Stuart-Black said Gita “has the potential to pack a punch and cause a lot of disruption”.

She urged people to prepare for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures that could “leave you or your loved ones stranded”.

“If you don’t have a household emergency plan, now’s the time to sit down with your family or flatmates and get it done.”

 – Stuff


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Barry Soper: National should unleash its rottweiler – Judith Collins

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National has a pretty clear choice in just over a week’s time – to flag the next election as a lost cause or to unleash a rottweiler who’d be capable of gnawing away at Labour’s most valuable, and it would seem almost untouchable asset, Jacinda Ardern.

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams are capable former Cabinet Ministers but election winners they ain’t.

If either of them get the nod to lead the party tomorrow week, the strongest single party in Opposition in the country’s history will have kissed goodbye to any success in 2020 and will have simply opened the way for someone yet to be considered to step up to the plate, and in a caucus that size there’ll be plenty itching to have a crack. After the expected resignations that’ll follow, whoever is eventually elected leader might still not be in Parliament yet.

Unleash Judith Collins and even though the chances of the Government changing, short of the unlikely event of it falling apart, it at least won’t be as cocksure as it was when it was sworn in last October.

Since becoming the first to announce her candidacy just under a week ago, Collins has shown her mettle, accusing Ardern of spending too much time talking about herself and not enough on the meaty issues. Even the sacrosanct Mother of the Nation mantle was stripped away with Collins declaring pregnancy and the Prime Ministership ain’t no thing – she ran a law firm when she was pregnant.

Collins’ acerbic style is quintessentially the opposite to the earnest persona of not just Bridges and Adams but of Ardern herself, and that’s what sets her apart. She’s also a slick social media operator, announcing her candidacy on Twitter and far outstripping the popularity of the other two with 12,500 followers. Although in fairness on the more sedate Facebook, Adams has more likes that the other two put together.

But it’s public opinion that counts, out in the real world, and on that score Collins is winning hands down with opinion poll soundings, even if they are relatively unscientific.

When it comes to the vote count in caucus, anything can happen if one of the candidates isn’t a clear winner on the first ballot, which is highly unlikely. If there are three in the race, the lowest polling candidate will drop off and the votes they attract will swing to the other two.

The 10 new MPs in their caucus are now experiencing lobbying like they’ve probably never experienced before and as the week progresses that’ll just intensify.

Like Jacinda Ardern last October, they’ve been given a responsibility that they weren’t expecting.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Coward’s punch victim George Siaosi dies a year after South Auckland assault

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George Siaosi has died more than a year after an assault left him permanently injured. Photo / Supplied
George Siaosi has died more than a year after an assault left him permanently injured. Photo / Supplied

Winter Olympics: New Zealand speed skating team make semifinals, in medal hunt

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Team New Zealand with Shane Dobbin, center, Reyon Kay, left, and Peter Michael, right, competes during the quarterfinals of the men's team pursuit speedskating race. Photo / AP
Team New Zealand with Shane Dobbin, center, Reyon Kay, left, and Peter Michael, right, competes during the quarterfinals of the men’s team pursuit speedskating race. Photo / AP

New Zealanders told to take precautions as Cyclone Gita expected to hit on Tuesday

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Civil Defence is warning Kiwis to be prepared as Cyclone Gita is expected to make landfall on Tuesday, bringing gale-force winds and heavy rain across several parts of the nation.

Strong swells, gale force winds, heavy rain and, in Canterbury, snow, is expected from Tuesday as the cyclone migrates to New Zealand after devastating Samoa and Tonga last week.

Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) director Sarah Stuart-Black said the Ministry would be monitoring the situation and was ready to co-ordinate assistance if it is needed.

“Cyclone Gita has the potential to pack a punch and cause a lot of disruption. Now is the perfect time to plan ahead.

“This means preparing for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures that could leave you or your loved ones stranded. It’s also a good idea to have a grab bag ready in case you need to evacuate.”

If you do not have an emergency plan then now is the time to get together with family or housemates to get it done.

MCDEM advised people to secure, or move inside, anything that could cause damage in strong winds, as well as closing windows and curtains to prevent injury from breaking windows.

People should stay inside and bring pets inside and if they have to leave, take them with.

Listen to the radio and follow the instructions of emergency services and avoiding non-essential travel during severe weather was essential, the Ministry said.

Cyclone Gita is honing in on New Zealand and is expected to hit the South Island’s western coast hardest but forecasters said almost everyone would experience some wet or windy weather.

 WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said the worst swells would be from New Plymouth to Hokitika, but Westport could be “clobbered” by the centre of Gita, with dangerous winds and coastal conditions.

Gita would approach the western coastline of the South Island on Tuesday night, bringing heavy rainfall and violent winds with wind gusts in wide areas in the northern South Island.

After Tuesday night heavy rainfall is expected to persist mainly in the central South Island, yet the distribution of strong wind and rainfall is uncertain, as models disagreed on the development of the cyclone.

The predicted ex-tropical cyclone would be preceded by a front that would hit the south of the North Island on Monday.

The activated front would produce heavy rainfall.

MetService meteorlogist Claire Flynn said the extent of the cyclone would be “widespread, crossing through central New Zealand”.

Even places not on watch could get rain and wind, she said.

MetService had a heavy rain warning for Nelson, Buller District, Kapiti, Wellington, Marlborough, Canterbury, Westland and North Otago from early morning Tuesday.

Strong wind watches were in place for Taranaki, Taihape, Whanganui, Nelson, Buller, Westland, Wellington and Marlborough from Tuesday afternoon.

“Pretty much across the board everyone will see something,” Flynn said.

People under the weather watches should be taking step to prepare for the worst.

“Things like bringing in outdoor furniture, cleaning gutters and checking moorings for boats, go to the GetThru website, they can give a breakdown in place.

There is also a possibility of unseasonable snow in Canterbury as the cyclone drags cool air with it.

Snow is predicted to fall in the Canterbury High Country on Tuesday.

It may affect some of the alpine roads around Canterbury, MetService said.People in the watch areas should be taking step to prepare visiting the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCED) website,


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Sexist culture extends beyond Russell McVeagh, law professionals say

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Russell McVeagh senior partner Pip Greenwood says the firm did not encourage a toxic culture, but admits it let down ...


Russell McVeagh senior partner Pip Greenwood says the firm did not encourage a toxic culture, but admits it let down former staff.

Claims have emerged that sexual misconduct and inappropriate workplace behaviour extend to firms beyond Russell McVeagh’s Wellington office, as the company admits it let down its staff.

Reports emerged this week that interns in a clerk programme in Wellington during the 2015-16 summer reported inappropriate sexual behaviour, which the company has admitted it knew about.

A former Russell McVeagh employee, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of discrimination in future employment, is one of several people who has spoken out against rife sexual misconduct within the legal industry they called a “boys’ club”.

Russell McVeagh's Wellington firm has come under the public eye for reports of their summer interns in a clerk programme ...


Russell McVeagh’s Wellington firm has come under the public eye for reports of their summer interns in a clerk programme reporting inappropriate sexual behaviour.

 The person said the firm was notorious for treating women “like meat” after the millenium, particularly in Auckland.

The former employee’s allegations included: sexual abuse of employees, sex and drug-taking within the workplace, openly ranking women’s looks, encouragement of heavy drinking and use of company money to attend strip shows – known as “going to showies”.

The firm has strongly denied the latter.

Russell McVeagh senior partner Pip Greenwood has denied allegations that the company ever encouraged a toxic culture among its employees.

In response, Greenwood said: “We’ve had social events and people have had happy times but I wouldn’t describe it as a culture in the way that you’ve described it, no.

“These circumstances that have occurred do not reflect who we are and I felt really strongly and personally, quite affected by the fact that I felt we really let these young women down.

“They trusted us with their first employment and we completely let them down.”

“I think we didn’t previously have a zero-tolerance policy because we didn’t think that we needed one.

“We didn’t think this represented our culture and our values and we were obviously wrong about that.”

When asked about allegations related to employees using company money to attend strip shows she said: “Oh my God, no. Not that I’m aware of.”

The former employee claimed to have witnessed the majority of the misconduct among senior partners aged in their 50s and 60s who encouraged the participation of inappropriate workplace behaviour among younger staff – particularly summer clerks.

Young women in the office were pressured to “chaperone” parties so clerks had a “good time”.

“A good time would mean going out and getting absolutely drunk, also it was a ritual to take them to Showgirls, an absolute ritual, and the White House [Adult Entertainment Centre].”

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The person said they were subject to the sexual harassment of a senior partner who groped and felt their bottom. The partner had since left the firm.

“Then we had a work Christmas Party and his groping and carrying on continued and I would try and squirm away.

“It was really uncomfortable and horrible. I think it’s happened to all sorts of staff as well, as I say: secretaries, support staff, admin staff, caterers, receptionists.”

Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law partner Steph Dyhrberg worked as an employment lawyer at Russell McVeagh from 1990 to 1997, following a summer clerkship.

During her time at the firm, she had worked with some great colleagues and had professional opportunities, but it was a “chauvinist and often demoralising” environment for both men and women to work in.

“I was far from alone in that experience.”

Dyhrberg, convenor of the Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association, claimed women had to work twice as hard to make half the progress of male colleagues.

Asked if she had witnessed or knew people involved in claims of sexual abuse, drug-taking, excessive drinking and attendance at strip shows in the profession, Dyhrberg said: “yes”.

While Russell McVeagh was bearing the brunt of the current media attention, she said the profession’s historic sexist and alcohol-fuelled culture was now open for discussion.

It was time for employers to stop “ducking for cover and start showing real honesty” about sexual harassment and safe working environments, she said. “This is really important.”

Dyhrberg said, when quite junior, she had been sexually harassed by a senior barrister who, when confronted, “subtly threatened my career”. She called him out on it.

“I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it.

“We still hear about them and every woman lawyer I know has those stories. It’s certainly not just at Russell McVeagh.

“Our profession is unfortunately still littered with these experiences because of the power imbalance and sexism.”

An example from the 90s included the job competition between a man and woman Dyhrberg knew, for a graduate lawyer’s role at a provincial firm.

Dyhrberg said the woman was asked if she was on the pill and planned on children, while the man was offered the job and offered a celebration at a strip club.

“He turned them down because he thought it wasn’t a good culture.”

Dyhrberg acknowledged a generation of women in the law profession who had “spent their entire careers fighting this stuff, and standing up”.

“We are fed up to the back teeth.”

As a member of the New Zealand Law Society’s National Friends Panel, Dyhrberg got “some horrible calls”.

“[They] leave me in tears about sexual harassment and exploitation and the bad way in which law firms often deal with it”.

Greenwood said the company had taken steps to ensure staff felt supported and ensure “that we hope this never happens again”.

Greenwood said no complaint was lodged with police, but there had been an internal investigation made into the allegations at the time. However the firm had “reached out to police” at the time and about 12 months ago.

“As far as we are aware, no complaint has been lodged with the police. We have told the police that we will cooperate in any way that they need.”

Police confirmed an alleged sexual assault occurred in January 2016. No charges resulted at that time.

“We’re much more circumspect about the use of alcohol at staff functions,” Greenwood said.

 – Stuff


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