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Cost Cutting Closes Café Weekends

Monday 7 February 2005

Cost Cutting Closes Café Weekends At Hillmorton Hospital

“Mental Health workers at Hillmorton Hospital say the decision to close the café on weekends by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is a further example of Government underfunding of health and is a major therapeutic issue for patients and visitors,” said John Kerr, Acting Secretary of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today. He was commenting on the announcement of the closure (from 21 February) to staff on Friday.

“The rationale for the closure is that the decision to stop selling cigarettes from the café has lowered the use of the facility,” said John Kerr. “The true reason is the Board’s need to cut $62m from budgets due to Government underfunding from Population Based Funding for Canterbury.”

“The café provides a therapeutic purpose for patients as they have interaction with staff while choosing what to buy and handing over their money. The aim of mental health treatment is to get patients back into the community – here the Board is removing the one part inside the Hospital most like the community,” said John Kerr. “For weekend visitors it also provides a spot to chat and buy items for the patient.”

“Staff fought for years to get a quality café on site. It is reasonable for nurses with no ability to leave the hospital between 1510 and 2310 hrs to expect a facility from which they can access a proper meal and have a decent break . With patients and staff divided into separate villas, the café provides an opportunity to talk to others and take a break in the ‘real’ world. Talking to a coffee or vending machine will hardly provide the same company.”

“Last year the Board contracted out the food services to Eurest. Now they are reducing the service that Eurest have to provide. Our Union is calling on the Board to keep the café open on the weekends,” said John Kerr. “A petition with 100 signatures opposing the closure has already been collected and more action will be taken.”


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