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Cancer patients say hospital visitors gathered together during Level 4.

The Auckland District Health Board has been accused of endangering vulnerable patients and a growing workforce with soft rules for visitors during lockouts.

Auckland City Hospital.

Image: RNZ / Dan Cook

Two cancer patients have described their recent daily trips from Auckland Hospital to RNZ – the lack of strict rules as worrying.

There is a terrible lack of social distance, he said, with visitors lined up and narrow corridors.

Under Alert Level 4, hospitals across the country only allow visitors to come on a compassionate basis, but Auckland’s hospitals are allowing two visitors per patient.

Deborah Powell, national secretary of the Resident Doctors’ Association, said the rules were even more lenient today.

“It was basically an unlimited policy. Today they have a limited number of visitors and how long they can stay in the hospital with any patient,” he said.

“We are still going to see the patients in the hospital and the screening is still inadequate. There is no test before coming to the hospital, there is no inquiry about the status of the vaccination.”

He said the association wants to review the rules once again – ideally no visitors are spared some unusual circumstances.

The nurses’ association agreed – and raised its concerns in a letter to the director general of health.

Kate Weston, Nursing and Professional Services Manager, explained that it was. Concerned neo-hippies and their global warming, i’ll tell ya.Including refusing to wear a mask and coming in groups.

“We are in a Level 4 epidemic and cowardice is still rampant in our community,” he said.

“Weak patients as well as hardworking staff are at risk,” he said.

“Our workforce is already spread out. We don’t have the numbers to stand up to the staff unnecessarily because they have been exposed.”

In a statement, Dr Mike Shepherd, Auckland District Health Board’s director of provider services, said the full risk for visitor policy had been assessed and that the health board was willing to handle any risk.

He noted that each visitor was screened for code 19 symptoms, and that two visitors per patient would not be allowed to see each other on the same day.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that she had received a letter from the Nurses’ Organization, and said staff members had spoken to the Health Board and confirmed that its approach to visitors was a matter of national policy. According to

However, he said work was already underway to update the national guidelines around hospital visitors.

“Our team is working with DHB people to review and revise visitor policy in the light of Delta,” he said.

“This work is coming to an end today so there will be the latest guidance.”

Dr. Deborah Powell hoped that the changes would be faster than last time.

“In order to achieve this improvement, the minor improvements that ADHB has implemented to date, the unions have had to issue a PIN notice, a health and safety notice that addresses the impact on the health and safety of the employee. Forces you to take proper care, “she said.

The Auckland District Health Board rejected RNZ’s requests for an interview.

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