In an "unprecedented" move, nurses from Timaru were drafted in to work at Dunedin Hospital for two days this week because of pressure on the hospital.

The hospital is still dealing with the impact of winter illnesses, and on Wednesday and Thursday its occupancy rate was more than 100%.

Eight Timaru nurses worked at the hospital yesterday, and nine on Thursday.

The situation had eased by 4pm yesterday, when the occupancy level eased back to 95%.


Nursing and midwifery director Leanne Samuel said the feedback from the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) nurses had been extremely positive, as they appreciated working in a different hospital.

"We are just so grateful that they came because they gave our teams a bit of a reprieve."

"It was unprecedented of us to go to another DHB and get some nurses down," Mrs Samuel said.

Influenza rates had been relatively low this winter but a lot of other bugs had circulated, including meningococcal disease.

"Certainly most of us have experienced two weeks of coughing and feeling pretty yuck, from a variety of viruses, but actual influenza is quite different.

"There has been a multitude of viruses, and also gastro bugs out and about."

Apart from accommodation, the Timaru nurses would not incur extra cost for the SDHB.

Southland Hospital was also at full capacity this week.