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Ministry Of Health: New jobs reflect new focus

22 March 2000
Wednesday 22 March

New jobs reflect new focus

MINISTRY of Health and Health Funding Authority managers will be given first chance at new jobs created by the integration of the two organisations.

The Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi, today announced the shape of the expanded Ministry to staff at the two agencies. The integration of the HFA functions into the Ministry of Health is due to be completed by the end of this year.

"We believe that the decisions we are outlining today give us the best prospects for meeting the Government's objectives in health and disability," Dr Poutasi said.

"We need to be able to respond to the disparities in health among Maori and Pacific peoples which have haunted us for so long. We will continue to have a focussed and dedicated Maori health directorate. There will also be a focus for Pacific people's health.

"For any groups at high risk an emphasis on the actions and choices which prevent diseases and promote healthy lifestyles - the public health approach - is crucial. The same is true for all New Zealanders - it's common sense to want to prevent illness or, if it does occur, to intervene early."

"We also need to be able to retain an overview of the sector, to align policy and funding decisions nationally and services at the level of the consumer."

"Additionally we need to do better in recognising the special needs of people with disabilities."

Reporting to the Director-General will be eight deputy directors-general, up from the present five. Their directorates will cover:

sector policy

Mäori health

public health

disability issues

mental health

personal and family services

sector funding and performance

corporate and information

The two agencies at present employ over 900 staff. Today's announcements, the first in a series outlining how the two will be integrated, covered second-tier (deputy directors-general) and third tier management positions. Between 25-30 positions are included in these announcements.

Dr Poutasi said it was anticipated that most staff would find jobs within the new health structures. The Ministry of Health expects that longer-term some staff will use their expertise and skills within District Health Boards, due to be set up as Transitional Health Boards by the end of the year.

Existing staff will have two weeks from March 31 to apply for the new deputy directors-general jobs. Any vacancies not filled will then be advertised externally.

Dr Poutasi said the decisions about structure took account of the main themes emerging from 94 submissions from staff on how best to regroup for the future.

"The level of feedback gave me great confidence in the team which will be taking the health sector into the new century," she said.

For more information contact: Frances Ross Chief media advisor Ministry of Health Tel: 496 2202 / 025 512 833

David Graham National media manager Health Funding Authority Tel: 460 4915 / 025 536 024

Background Information

What are the main points of the new structure?

The Ministry will have eight directorates covering; sector policy, public health, disability issues, mental health, personal and family services, sector funding and performance, Maori health, corporate and information The Deputy Directors-General responsible for each directorate will, together with the Director-General of Health, comprise the Ministry's executive team.

How does this differ from the current Ministry structure?

Currently the Ministry is split into five branches; policy, safety and regulation, performance management, Maori Health and corporate. A Deputy Director-General heads each. The Health Funding Authority is responsible for the provision of publicly funded health services.

Why was this structure decided on?

it integrates the HFA functions with the Ministry in a way designed both to fit with the health sector and the Government's objectives. it retains the strengths of both organisations it will allow the Ministry to respond to health disparities among Maori, Pacific peoples and other groups it enables the maintenance of established relationships with service providers; for momentum achieved in current projects to continue; and for the speedy introduction of new initiatives

What other changes were announced today?

It was announced that second tier management positions (Deputy Director-Generals) will be advertised internally within the Ministry of Health and the Health Funding Authority. Most third tier management positions (direct reports to the Deputy Director-Generals) will also be contestable. Details of third tier management changes are still being finalised. About 25-30 second and third tier jobs will be made internally contestable. These are the positions that will significantly change under the new structure. People who miss out on the second and third tier positions will not necessarily be made redundant as they could fulfil other roles in the Ministry or district health boards.

How and when was the decision announced to staff?

Second and third tier managers were briefed by Director General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi this morning and Deputy Director General of Health David Lambie and HFA Board Chair Syd Bradley were available to managers in their respective organisations to answer further questions. Managers then briefed staff throughout the day. Staff were told not just of the decisions, but the rationale behind them.

What input has there been from staff?

staff were asked for feedback on the proposed changes and 94 submissions, some from groups, were received a website accessible only to workers at the Ministry and the Health Funding Authority has been established which contains the proposed changes and also other information on the changes the website offers staff the chance to submit questions anonymously and answers are published on the site managers hold frequent meetings to update staff on developments and to provide people the opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions and raise issues

What support is available to staff?

A number of support services are available to staff including chaplains, access to seminars dealing with uncertainty, change, stress management and maintaining team relationships during change. Personalised support and counselling can also be arranged, training and backup for managers is available and any staff member who loses their job as a result of the changes would be offered help with career options.

At this stage how many jobs are likely to be lost in the integration?

Job losses will be kept as few as possible to both limit the impact on staff and also to prevent the loss of valued skills and experience from the health sector. Currently there are about 900 Ministry and Health Funding Authority staff. While much work has yet to be done in terms of the integration of the two organisations we will endeavour to minimise redundancies. A protocol for transferring/reconfirming, reassigning and appointing employees to the new structure will be prepared when the detailed structure has been finalised. There will be staff consultation on the protocol.

What happens now regarding the managerial positions?

The available second tier management positions will now be advertised with interviews expected to take place in April. The successful appointments will be announced in early May. Third tier management positions are expected to be advertised in May with successful appointments announced in June.

What happens next regarding the integration of the Ministry and the HFA?

The focus will turn to the detailed structure and finalising both the job numbers and types required in each of the directorates. Work on the protocol for the transfer of staff will continue. There will be staff consultation on a proposed detailed structure and protocol and will then make final decisions. Staff transfers within the Ministry will begin in June. It is expected the new structure will commence operating in July, although the Health Funding Authority will continue to be responsible for funding public health services until new legislation is passed, expected in November.

What will be the physical requirements of this new structure?

The physical requirements are still being determined. There will still be a need for offices in the regions.

What is the expected cost of the integration of the Ministry and the HFA?

The upfront cost is expected to be $3-$4 million.

ENDS

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