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Hospitals At Risk Of Legionnaires Through Cuts

Sunday 7 August 2005

Hospitals At Risk Of Legionnaires Through Cuts

“Government induced budget cuts have left hospitals in the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) at greater risk of legionnaires and other infectious diseases,” said Paul Piesse, co-leader of the Alliance party today.

Paul Piesse was commenting on the deaths and illnesses of a dozen Canterbury people with legionnaires disease. “There have previously been outbreaks of novovirus and influenza, and serious fears are being expressed about dealing with a bird flu pandemic.”

“Maintenance cuts at the CDHB to save money in order simply to balance the budget have led to cutbacks to minimal levels on lighting and heating,” said Paul Piesse. “Greater tolerance is being allowed on settings around the Hospital in relation to variations in hot water temperatures before staff are called out to investigate.”

“Yet it is in exactly those conditions of greater tolerance that bugs like legionnaires can get into the system,” said Paul Piesse.

“Christchurch Public Hospital is beginning to move to a maintenance system where inexperienced and untrained staff are placed on 24/7 shifts, instead of getting the right trades person out on call,” said Paul Piesse. “Again this is seen as yet another way to save money, as on call payments represent a significant part of the remuneration package of many trades staff.”

“While this is saving $500,000, the Board is offering a remuneration package somewhat greater than that to a new Chief Executive to replace Jean O’Callaghan,” said Paul Piesse. “Once more, lower paid staff are required to sacrifice further to fatten the already obscene salaries of the over paid.”


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