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Health Minister Must Intervene

“Health Minister Must Intervene In Crisis-Ridden Auckland”

“Health Minister Annette King must intervene in the crisis-ridden Auckland District Health Board if long-term damage to the quality of health services is to be avoided,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“Auckland is in the middle of a crisis of which the bitter protracted dispute between management and radiographers is the current and worst example. The dispute has further deteriorated the already seriously low morale in Auckland over the DHB’s autocratic leadership style which is sapping the confidence of senior doctors and other health professionals. This corrosiveness is also sucking in the neighbouring Counties Manukau and Waitemata DHBs.”

“If this crisis of leadership in Auckland continues then it will cause a loss of key skilled professional staff. There is already evidence of this with some radiographers leaving and our feed-back is that this is also being seriously considered by other health professionals. Loss of key health professionals and shortages directly affect the quality of patient care. Although the Board has primary responsibility for intervening and addressing this crisis of leadership, to date they have not demonstrated any willingness or ability to resolve it. The Board’s failure puts the crisis fairly and squarely in the court of the Health Minister.”

“There are two critical decisions that Health Minister Annette King needs to make. First, she should require the Auckland DHB to refer the radiographers’ dispute to independent arbitration before the next strike round proceeds. Understandably the Minister does not want to do this but the stakes are now too high and the crisis is leading to long-term detrimental outcomes. The government wisely recognised this in the long-standing secondary teachers’ dispute and should be prepared to do likewise in this dispute. The radiographers’ union has already stated a preparedness to go to arbitration. Only the Auckland DHB management is blocking it.”

“Second, she should order an independent review of the leadership style and performance of the Auckland DHB which is the common denominator in the low morale and poor relationships between management and health professionals. The radiographers’ dispute is a symptom rather than cause of this crisis of confidence.”

“The Health Minister has made strong impressive statements expressing her appreciation for the dedication and commitment of senior doctors and other health professionals and the importance of good cooperative working relationships in DHBs. The Auckland crisis is sabotaging her policy and the Board has failed to sort the crisis out. Consequently she must intervene to prevent further damage from becoming irretrievable,” concluded Mr Powell.

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