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Watch: 'Very frightening' – former nurse shocked at staff conditions at Dunedin Hospital

A short stay in Dunedin Hospital has shocked a former nurse, who says staff were stretched and left without the equipment they needed.

Ann Stokes says faulty equipment and over-stretched staff are putting patient safety at risk. Source: 1 NEWS

On March 28 this year Ann Stokes stayed three nights in Dunedin Hospital after surgery on her shoulder.

She was shocked at the conditions staff were working in.

Nurses and doctors were constantly running to keep up, and equipment and machinery was often difficult to find or malfunctioning.

One incident saw a machine intended to relieve pain for a man with a prosthetic limb keep malfunctioning, sounding a siren across a ward every four to five minutes through the night while the patient himself was crying out in pain. 

Another incident saw a house surgeon unable to find a tourniquet to administer an IV line, so he just used a rubber glove from beside the bed.

There were also issues with Ms Stokes' food.

As a diabetic, the only thing she could eat that was served to her was peas - not the "honey pork".

Another woman needed help to get to the toilet, but with no nurses available, Ms Stokes' daughter assisted her. 

"The lack of equipment was a very frightening thing to see, they just didnt have what they needed to do the work, they just didn't have it," she told 1 NEWS. 

Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Nigel Millar says the SDHB wants to hear from people who've had experiences like Ms Stokes had in order to act. 

He says the SDHB manages staff-to-patient numbers via computer software, and at times that leads to nurses being stretched.

"At times, when you have a sudden peak in demand, then things do get stretched. What you find is all health services are under pressure."

Local MP and Labour spokesperson for health, David Clark, says there will be bad outcomes because of overworked staff.

"This has to be a concern for patient safety. I see the staff working incredibly hard and I seldom hear criticism of the staffing. It is actually that people are not given the resources they need and that is leading to concerns for patient safety," he said.