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Canterbury DHB Puts Dollars Before Sense

6 May 2004

Canterbury DHB Puts Dollars Before Sense

“The Canterbury District Health Board must have a strange set of priorities if cutting psychiatric registrars’ pay is considered to be a good way to save money,” said New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Registrars’ pay was reportedly cut by up to $10,000 a year because a review revealed they had been paid for working 50 to 55 hours a week rather than 45 to 50 hours.

“The DHB has 25 psychiatric registrars, six of whom have already left or are leaving and up to 10 have indicated to the Resident Doctors’ Association that they may also depart.

“The saving of $250,000 looks good on paper but is actually short sighted in the extreme. Given the nationwide shortage of trained mental health professionals, the Canterbury district would appear to have been quite well served until some bean counter at the DHB decided to take a knife to pay rates,” said Mrs Stewart.

“The bean counters have failed to take into account possible increases in waiting lists if staff shortages eventuate, time and money spent in recruiting replacement staff, the overtime to be paid if staff numbers are reduced and a possible eventual shortage of psychiatrists in the region.

“The Canterbury DHB appears be fighting a losing battle with its finances with Christchurch Hospital looking at a $7.9m budget blow-out for the year ending in June.

“However rather than cutting the pay of essential staff it is time for the chairman to approach the Minister of Health, which is where, ultimately, the buck stops,” said Mrs Stewart.


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