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Funding cuts, efficiencies and cost savings are double-speak

Funding cuts, efficiencies and cost savings are DHB double-speak

NZNO members at Capital and Coast DHB are troubled to hear their CEO say that cuts would not ‘directly impact on the safety and care of our patients’, but could include ‘further efficiencies’ in clinical supplies, reducing the use of overtime and a quick holiday for ‘non-frontline staff’. An email to staff on Friday said that a ‘sudden deterioration’ in the forecast deficit meant that cost cutting measures must be implemented quickly.

NZNO is worried that the potential risks to patients and staff will be significant if the DHB reaches its goal of having 1000 staff going on leave in a concentrated space of time. Protestations that only non-frontline staff are expected to take leave show that the DHB does not understand how their hospital works.

NZNO industrial adviser for the DHB sector, Lesley Harry says, “Providing high quality, safe patient care, where and when it is needed, relies on every member of the team, from cleaners and receptionists right through to the charge nurse managers, being on the ball. Integrated teams are required to deliver timely, quality care in a safe environment. You can’t take a couple of roles out of the mix and cross your fingers that everything will be ok.”

“Asking nurses to cut back their use of clinical supplies also rings alarm bells. We’re not talking about pens and staplers – we are talking about bandages, dressings and other medical equipment necessary to get patients back to good health. The DHB is making a mistake by putting money at the centre of their decision-making. Patients need to be at the heart of every decision in the health system.”

“This is an alarming state of affairs. Former CEO of CCDHB, Ken Whelen left his job in 2010 saying he had cut to the bone and that he was unable to make further cuts in expenditure without impacting on the provision of care to patients. Since then we have supported our members through a range of issues related to staffing levels and ability to provide quality patient care,” Harry says.

“Our members are already overworked and understaffed. We urge the DHB to go back to the drawing board and find another way to make their savings. Safe staffing and patient care must be the priority in this process. And we say to the Government, again, ‘These funding cuts, efficiencies and cost saving measures are happening because you are underfunding DHBs. It’s time to fund DHBs to provide the services New Zealanders need and deserve’.”


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