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Senior doctors renew plea for dedicated emergency department security

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Emergency department doctors at two Auckland hospitals are warning someone could be killed or seriously injured if security is not improved.

The senior doctors at North Shore and Waitākere hospitals have written to their bosses this month, pleading again for a dedicated security guard.

Their union said on a single day earlier this year a doctor was punched, a patient in a wheelchair was punched and police brought in a man in a spithood but security often had to come from elsewhere in the hospital.

In the letter, the doctors, known as SMOs, said the violence and aggression experienced by front-line staff was getting worse.

“SMOs believe death or serious injury from a violent incident in NSH [North Shore Hospital] and WTK [Waitākere Hospital] EDs is an imminent short-term risk,” they said.

They asked for a dedicated security team to try to reduce the risk, something they – and nurses – had repeatedly asked for.

Currently each hospital was covered by a team of up to five guards. The doctors said they valued them highly.

“However, at present this security service is not adequately resourced and often not available to respond immediately to incidences of violence and aggression at the EDs,” they said.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton said the assault on the doctor happened earlier this year but violence and aggression was now a daily occurrence.

The doctor had stepped in as an agitated patient headed to the ambulance bay where several elderly and sick patients were waiting.

“The doctor went to see if they could get that patient back and make sure that any vulnerable patients were kept safe by shutting a door, so the patient then turned around and punched the doctor,” Dalton said.

They were not seriously injured but were very shaken and went home early.

One medical staff member told RNZ they could not understand why the security request was not being granted by Te Whatu Ora.

“The lack of action, the lack of believing us is quite breathtaking,” she said.

“[They] seem to accept that working in ED is a violent place, part of the job and we should just suck it up. They have decided it is an operational risk that is acceptable.”

Dalton said a dedicated security guard should be a “no-brainer”.

In a statement, a Te Whatu Ora spokesperson said they were taking the concerns seriously and were looking at more funding for security.

“We hope to be in a position very soon to introduce a new security staffing model that will address the concerns raised by senior doctors,” he said.

“In the meantime, the public can be assured it is safe to seek care when needed.”

Doctors and nurses have been asking for full-time security at the hospitals since last year after a growing number of assaults and aggression directed at staff and patients.

Last year, a patient at North Shore Hospital punched someone who had been brought in by ambulance, a stranger, knocking her to the ground.

Earlier this year, a man drove his car at the packed department, crashing into safety bollards outside the door.

In August, it was revealed staff at the two hospitals hit panic buttons or called security thousands of times in seven months.

In the letter to Te Whatu Ora, the doctors said a dedicated, round-the-clock security service would be a strong deterrent to aggressive behaviour, could help deescalate behaviour and would ensure staff and patients were treated with respect.

Only a fraction of incidents were reported, they said.

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NZ First Minister Casey Costello orders 50% cut to excise tax on heated tobacco products

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Associate Health Minister Casey Costello has cut the excise tax on Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs), as she aims to make them more attractive as an alternative to smoking.

Costello, who is also Customs Minister, has cut the excise rate on HTPs by 50 percent effective from 1 July – a move silently dropped on the Customs website.

Costello refused to be interviewed by RNZ but a spokesman said she had made the move to reduce the cost of the products to encourage smokers to switch to safer alternatives.

But Janet Hoek, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, told RNZ that the move seemed weighted in favour of the tobacco industry.

“Certainly that is something that tobacco companies would have been keen to see happen,” Hoek said. “This is not advice that is coming from the Ministry (of Health). It certainly seems to be advice that is suiting tobacco industry interests.”

Tobacco giant Philip Morris owns a leading brand in the HTP market, the IQOS, where sticks of tobacco are inserted into a device and heated, rather than burned.

Philip Morris has lobbied for a cut to the excise tax on HTPs, telling the Tax Working Group in 2018 that the government should “establish a tax rate for heated tobacco products significantly below the tax rate” for tobacco.

In a statement to RNZ Costello said that vaping had been a successful quit-smoking tool and she wanted to see whether HTPs would also be a useful cessation device.

“Vaping does not work for everyone and some attempting to quit have tried several times. HTPs have a similar risk profile to vapes and they are currently legally available, so we are testing what impact halving excise on those products makes.”

HEETS are tobacco sticks or refills that are heated in an electronic device, rather than burned like a traditional cigarette.

There is no evidence that Heated Tobacco Products help people to quit smoking, the Ministry of Health says. Photo: 123RF

Documents released by the Ministry of Health show Costello also asked for advice on liberalising the regulation of HTPs but it was opposed to the idea.

“There is no evidence to support their use as a quit smoking tool,” ministry officials told her. “We do not recommend liberalising the way HTPs are promoted. This would likely compound existing concerns about youth uptake and addiction to nicotine products.

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Fiji News

All Blacks v Fiji: what you need to know

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Here is all you need to know about the match, where it’s going down and how you can follow the action.

All Blacks v Fiji: Live blog coverage on RNZ Sport

Kick-off: 2:30pm, Saturday 20 July NZT (Friday 7:30pm local)

At Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego

San Diego seems like an odd choice of venue?

It does, given that this is actually an All Blacks home fixture, so normally this would be played somewhere like Hamilton or Napier. However, NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has been upfront about the commercial opportunities that taking games to the United States brings and besides, this isn’t the first time this has happened.

The All Blacks played two horribly mismatched tests against the USA in Chicago and Washington DC, but it is their 2016 game against Ireland in the Windy City that is the most famous. The Irish picked up their first ever win over the All Blacks, a 40-29 result, in front of 60,000 at Soldier Field Stadium.

This week’s game is not the first time the All Blacks have played in San Diego, though. Way back in 1980 they beat the USA 53-6 at Chargers Stadium, which has since been demolished and replaced with the new, 35,000 seat Snapdragon Stadium. Fred Woodman, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe’s uncle, scored a hat trick in that win over the Americans.

All Black captain David Kirk in action during the Rugby World Cup match between the All Blacks and Fiji at Lancaster Park Christchurch, New Zealand, on Wednesday 27 May 1987.

All Blacks captain David Kirk in action during the Rugby World Cup match against Fiji at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in 1987. Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT. www.photosport.co.nz

Saturday afternoon footy!

How good … unless you’re involved in senior club rugby finals around the country. But that’s OK because you can keep an eye on the action with Jamie Wall’s live blog, here on RNZ Sport.

How have Fiji gone lately?

Pretty good, if last year’s Rugby World Cup is anything to go by. The Fijians made the quarter finals and only just lost to England, who they had actually beaten at Twickenham before the tournament began. They did suffer a shock loss to Portugal in the pool stages, however that result may well have said more about the Portuguese and their rapid improvement in test rugby lately.

This year, they have started their season with a good 21-12 away win over Georgia in Batumi and the Fijian Drua made the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs.

Temo Mayanavanua and Scott Barrett swap jerseys.

Temo Mayanavanua and Scott Barrett swap jerseys after the All Blacks vs Fiji match in Hamilton, in 2021. Photo: Jeremy Ward/Photosport

What about the All Blacks in their first two tests?

They won both, which is the main thing.

England turned out to be a very well drilled and effective side, who are clearly on an upward trend in terms of playing both positive rugby and to their traditional strength of forward play and kicking. Scott Robertson’s team were able to nullify both – just – due to a noticeable shift in tactics in the first test and the impact of Beauden Barrett in the second.

However, not much from those games can really be taken into this test against Fiji. The starting side is going to be completely overhauled with four potential debutantes getting a run, Patrick Tuipulotu has been left at home to recover, and the focus on field will be very much ‘get the win and get out’.

What else are the All Blacks doing this week?

Selling. The whole point of this event is to grow their brand in a new territory, this time the West Coast of the United States.

There will be plenty of media spots and visits to sponsors, presumably to have repetitive conversations about what rugby actually is and why they don’t wear pads and helmets. As well as selling the All Blacks brand, the long term goal here is to build interest in the 2031 Rugby World Cup, which is being held in the USA.

Rieko Ioane scores a try.

Rieko Ioane scores a try against Fiji in Hamilton, in 2021. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

What’s going to happen?

Fiji certainly have the ability to cause the All Blacks some problems, their previous results indicate they are a much more balanced side than the ones that have come to New Zealand in the past. The average winning margin for the All Blacks in those tests was a staggering 58 points, but it’s a fair call that this one will be slightly closer.

For the All Blacks, they will just want to get in, do their commercial work and get out with a win, because the next challenge is a Rugby Championship competition they haven’t lost in five seasons.

VIA RNZ

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Breaking News

26-year-old charged after man found dead in car outside vape store

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Police in Auckland have arrested a man in relation to the homicide investigation launched in Mount Wellington at the weekend.

Officers were called to Penrose Road in Mount Wellington about 10.40pm on Saturday after reports of a gun being fired outside a business.

On arrival they found a man dead in a car.

Police have named the man as 22-year-old Texas Jack Doctor.

They say a 26-year-old man has been arrested, charged with accessory after the fact to murder.

He is expected to appear in Auckland District Court Wednesday.

VIA RNZ

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