2 Feb 2015

Hundreds of Aotea Pathology jobs on line

7:12 pm on 2 February 2015

A firm providing community medical tests for thousands of people in the Wellington region says a question mark hangs over the jobs of 220 staff.

lab technician (file photo)

Photo: AFP

Aotea Pathology announced today it has withdrawn its tender from a request-for-proposal process for a future regional laboratory service.

Three Wellington region district health boards (DHBs) are considering options for a single lab service, combining hospital and community laboratories.

The withdrawal of Aotea means it is no longer part of that process and has no guarantee of work after 31 October.

The firm has provided community medical testing in the Wellington region for 80 years.

It said it pulled out of the process out of concerns around the tendering process by the Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs.

Aotea Pathology chief executive Karen Wood said the future of 220 staff - who are based in Wellington, Hutt Valley and Kapiti - was uncertain after October.

"We, as I said, have a contract that we will deliver on through to 31 October. Beyond that, we cannot give them any assurance of ongoing employment."

She said they would continue fulfilling their contract until then.

"Absolutely, we're a very competent organisation and very professional in our approach and we will absolutely make sure that the 3000 patients a day that we see at Aotea Pathology get the service that they deserve."

The jobs that could be at risk include collection staff, scientists, pathologists and commercial support workers.

A decision by the DHBs on laboratory services plans had been expected today but had been deferred until next month.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said he had called for a report from the Health Ministry and Wellington region DHBs over the plan.

Mr Coleman said a procurement process was under way, and no final decisions had been made.

However, there must be clinical buy-in and a clear understanding of wider benefits, not just financial implications, he said.

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