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DHB must take its social responsibilities more seriously – NZNO

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 15 November 2019

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says a Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (DHB) decision to shut the health centre at Wairoa Hospital and transfer some 300 patients to the care of a private provider is socially irresponsible and will leave nurses in the area high and dry, and without jobs.

The private provider will not take on the staff currently working at the DHB-owned health centre meaning five nurses will need to find work at Hastings Hospital 130kms away or lose their jobs entirely in an area with high unemployment.

NZNO Organiser Stephanie Thomas says members have complained that the DHB failed to meet the terms of the NZNO-DHB multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) because it announced the decision without any consultation.

“Hawke’s Bay DHB says this is a ‘business decision’ so it didn’t need to consult. Our question is how can decisions like that be made – decisions that will have tragic outcomes for hard-working nursing staff – without seeking input from those affected so all options could be explored?

“These are people who have made their lives in Wairoa. They are sometimes the sole breadwinners, they have purchased houses, their kids attend schools and they are part of their local community.”

There are no current nursing vacancies at Wairoa and the DHB has said it will work with staff to find reasonable redeployment options, but Ms Thomas says none of the options are reasonable.

“Basically our nurses are left with very few options. If they don’t want to lose their jobs they will need to either commute four hours a day or uproot their families and move to Hastings – if there are jobs available there and that’s not guaranteed.”

Ms Thomas says the DHB needs to take its social responsibilities more seriously.

“We know funds are tight for DHBs around the country but once again it is nursing staff who bear the brunt, and whose lives will be seriously affected by money-saving decisions.”

She says the affected nurses, ironically, are continuing to work with patients to ensure their transfer to the new provider goes smoothly and with a minimum of stress.

“Nurses shouldn’t have to work sacrificially but often do because they are caring professionals, but the sacrifice being asked of them here is unfair and unnecessary. Hawke’s Bay DHB management need to have a serious re-think about their obligations to the nursing staff who have worked with and for them in good faith to help meet the health needs of the people of Wairoa.”


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