A district health board has signalled its intent to offer voluntary redundancies to senior staff, raising concerns about patient safety and leading an NZNO representative to describe it as “mind-boggling”.
A letter from Counties Manukau DHB acting chief executive Gloria Johnson was sent to senior managers on Monday suggesting voluntary redundancy be offered to a number of staff on individual employment agreements and those at the top of their pay band, including all clinicians.
Counties Manukau DHB runs Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.
NZNO DHB industrial adviser Lesley Harry said it was “mind-boggling” to see how the proposed scheme would ensure safe staffing levels and ensure the right skill mix for patient care. “This DHB is short of senior experienced nursing staff as it is.”
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said it was “absurd” and “bonkers” to be encouraging staff to leave when the existing workforce was overworked.
In July, the hospital warned they were seeing record demand for services and advised people to see their family doctor first unless it was an emergency.
In August, under-pressure staff at Middlemore Hospital told accident and emergency patients to go elsewhere or face a wait of up to eight hours. They made a sign and put it up at the front of the Accident and Emergency Department warning people off because of extensive delays.
A Counties Manukau DHB spokeswoman confirmed a letter was drafted for senior managers for consultation around the “possibility that some senior staff may wish for family or other reasons to cease their employment voluntarily”.
She said it was intended as “a good thing to offer staff”.
The intent of the scheme was to enable more resources to be directed into frontline services, rather than reduce clinical staffing levels, she said. Any clinical staff approved for a cessation package would be matched by increased numbers of other clinical staff more closely involved in frontline services.
Johnson said the scheme was in the discussion stage only.