Traumatised nurse flees NZ

By Chloe Johnson

Poh Sim Roberts will take her nursing experience back to England. Photo / Cat Brown
Poh Sim Roberts will take her nursing experience back to England. Photo / Cat Brown

A highly experienced nurse is so distraught over her treatment by the Tairawhiti District Health Board she is leaving the country.

Poh Sim Roberts, 57, has 35 years' experience and had been working in Gisborne Hospital's intensive care unit for more than three years when she was transferred to a newly created flight team and dialysis unit last April.

The new air transport service was created to provide more efficient flights for patients and reduce costs by $200,000 a year.

Roberts trained with flight nurses and dialysis teams in Waikato and Hawke's Bay for five weeks. The Herald on Sunday obtained a copy of her training documents and a competency test, in which she scored 85 per cent.

But in November, the medical flight director refused to certify Roberts, based on allegations she failed to provide oxygen to a patient and did not remain calm on a flight.

Roberts denied the claims and said she was kept off the flight team because the service failed to meet financial objectives.

In December, the air transport service was $700,000 over budget and was providing 40 per cent fewer flights than anticipated.

"I think it was based on them losing money on flights ... I was shocked," Roberts, originally from Malaysia, said.

Her husband, Stephen Roberts, obtained internal emails and documents under the Official Information Act.

The emails, which the Herald on Sunday has seen, revealed Roberts' experience and knowledge had been an asset to the hospital. There was also no negative feedback documented during her training in Waikato or Hawke's Bay.

Tairawhiti District Health Board chief executive Jim Green denied Robert's situation was related to the troubled air transport service. He was unable to comment further.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills arranged a mediation meeting in February that resolved the issue confidentially.

The settlement was satisfactory, she said, but the experience affected her health and is forcing her to move home to England later this year.

- Herald on Sunday

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