19 Oct 2012

Wellington region DHBs to work more closely

5:30 am on 19 October 2012

District health boards in the Wellington region are to announce major changes to help them streamline and integrate services.

Documents obtained by Radio New Zealand News show the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs are to amalgamate senior management teams, share one chief executive and boost links with the Capital and Coast DHB.

The chairperson of the Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley boards, Virginia Hope, rejects the view that the changes could be seen as a takeover.

The boards say they've been working more closely but must go further if they're to integrate hospital and community services.

They say the changes are not a merger but will provide better use of staff and ease financial pressures.

All three elected boards will remain, no hospitals will close, and the boards say staff will not be immediately affected.

They say differences between them waste time, frustrate doctors and patients, and the changes should reduce waiting times while providing better access to diagnostic and non-urgent services for 480,000 people.

Staff feedback 'generally positive'

The senior doctors' union says broadly speaking it's a good idea but amalgamating senior management is unnecessary.

Resident Doctors Association general secretary Deborah Powell says clinicians must lead the changes, and they must not be rushed.

The association, which represents junior hospital doctors, believes integrated services will improve the training opportunities for junior doctors in areas such as radiology.

Staff were being told about the changes at midday on Thursday and the Public Service Association says staff feedback has been generally positive.

Dr Hope says the new Hutt Valley/Wairarapa chief executive will be appointed by the end of the year.