Nurse suicides and abuse at DHB - RNZ reveals

The suicides of two nurses who worked at Tauranga Hospital have been linked to poor treatment by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, but the DHB chief executive disagrees with the assessment. File photo.

The suicide of at least two nurses who worked at Tauranga Hospital are being blamed on failures by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to provide a safe work environment, an RNZ investigation has revealed.

A third’s suspected suicide is also being investigated by the Coroner.

Nurse Jeremy Avis started working at the hospital in 2013, but by the time he left in 2016, he was ‘a shell of his former self’, according to his family.

In his first year, Avis was hit across the face by a co-worker. His family told RNZ that when he complained, the BOPDHB, which runs the hospital, told him the co-worker had a medical problem and nothing else was done.

In 2015, his parents says Jeremy felt punished after foregoing normal protocol to save a man’s life.

He was put on supervision for six months, during which time, his family told RNZ, he felt belittled and bullied by management.

In an email to a former colleague before he died, Jeremy said he was avoiding his manager “like the plague”.

On July 26, 2016, Jeremy committed suicide.

“It’s bullying that erodes people's confidence. It just does. It kills them, it destroys them,” his mother Mary told RNZ.

A nurse who killed himself in 2013 left behind a note to his colleagues on the ward where he worked at Tauranga Hospital: "I hope you are all happy now that I’m gone. I look forward to meeting you all again in Hell!”

A suspected suicide of another Tauranga Hospital nurse in 2017 is still under investigation by the Coroner. Multiple sources say she felt poorly treated by management.

BOPDHB chief executive Helen Mason told RNZ the suicides are devastating.

"These have been distressing events for all involved; for the families and also for friends and work colleagues."

But she says the DHB has found "significant and material differences" between the accounts given to RNZ by staff who felt mistreated and what appears in the DHB's records, which she says, she "firmly stands behind".

The DHB has repeatedly rejected any allegetions that the organisation condones bullying.

Helen says the DHB “is firmly committed to an anti-bullying culture and take any allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously”.


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Bullying is Violence.

Posted on 01-06-2018 07:02 | By Dollie

Not OK DHB. I hope that there is an Inquiry into this. Thank you Culture Safe NZ for coming out on behalf of victims. That Jeremy sustained this for at least 2 years was so very courageous. Our Kiwi Culture becomes a clobbering machine when people are different in any way and Institutions are not an exception. God is the ultimate judge no matter the circumstances in life.


Posted on 31-05-2018 23:07 | By teamjelly

As a (unfortunate) frequent visitor to the ED department - it’s obvious that Nurses have a far more stressful and important job than teachers (and perhaps police) yet there seems to be a lack of support and compensation from the Government. Any one with Health issues knows that’s its our #1 issue but if there problems in the DHB then they need to be sorted pronto, Do you really want to be attended to by a nurse who feels bullied or stressed or pressured or unhappy in her job

Having spent MANY hours in the Tauranga Hospital

Posted on 31-05-2018 22:28 | By The Caveman

Over the last few months (not as a patient) I can say that the nursing / support staff on the wards are SUPER in what the do. The PROBLEM is that their numbers are TOTALLY below what is actually required to meet the needs of the patients in the wards. As far as I am concerned it seems that there are tooooo many overpaid chiefs and NOT enough indians - yes the NURSES and their support staff on the wards that are FULLY stocked with patients, some of which I saw being "discharged" when their "condition" to go home was highly questionable.


Posted on 31-05-2018 17:41 | By NZer

It certainly seems to be a problem definitely in one certain culture........

Kiwi culture

Posted on 31-05-2018 13:36 | By maildrop

New Zealand seems to have a problem with bullying and harassment doesn’t it? I see it on the roads every day, but I am alarmed to see it exists even in hospitals.