The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says Southern District Health Board is putting propaganda before patients, by more than doubling what it spends on communications and marketing.
The association says money spent by the board on communications has almost tripled in the past three years, while there have been cuts to nurse training and the number of hospital beds.
The board is spending $445,000 on communications this year. Two years ago it spent $159,000.
The board is defending the amount, saying the communications team's work is crucial to the organisation.
Health Minister Tony Ryall says the DHB is spending more money on front-line staff, and now has 61 more doctors and 143 more nurses than it did five years ago.