9 May 2015

Major shake-up at Waikato DHB

1:40 pm on 9 May 2015

The Waikato District Health Board says a major restructure of its top executives will improve efficiency, despite it adding more senior roles.

The Waikato Rescue Helicopter at Hinuera, Waikato.

Photo: Philips Search and Rescue Trust

The move comes after a scathing report from the Health Ministry a year ago, which said the DHB had too many managers, too many senior nurses and that communication among staff was poor. The report also said the DHB was too slow to provide treatment and suffered financial constraints.

Last night's restructure announcement is just for the top layer of staff, and more restructuring will come for those further down the chain over the next year.

Chief executive Dr Nigel Murray said that it would get rid of six key roles: the COO, CFO, general manager of human resources, director of board governance, project manager - building programme office and director of communications

They will be replaced with eight roles: a chief of staff, and executive director positions covering operations, strategic projects, corporate services, hospital services, community and clinical support, public affairs and a director of allied health.

Those whose roles will be affected have been told.

Dr Murray said these changes would not affect patients.

"I want to assure people we have a strong commitment to clinical partnership which will be improved through changes at other levels subsequent to this review."

He said some of the new roles would be part-time and the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff would go down.

"You'll find that the overall FTE count, if you wish, will standardise down to a level that we think is appropriate and benchmarkable as one of the most efficient and effective in the country," he said.

"We have streamlined our organisation and we are more efficient and effective."

The DHB is asking its staff and stakeholders for its opinions over the next two weeks.

Announcement on senior nurses expected

Dr Murray said an announcement on potentially reducing the number of senior nurses at the DHB would be made later this year.

"It doesn't mean that nurses aren't doing very valuable things at the senior end but we've got to make sure that they're adding direct value to the frontline of patient care.

"Patients in beds, patients in clinics, patients in the community."

Nurses Organisation union organiser Rob George said - while some of the restructuring was necessary - he feared it would disrupt frontline staff, who were already stretched.

"Change can occur however it needs to be done in a way that maintains stability as much as possible and doesn't overly disrupt the work that people are doing on the frontline."

Dr Murray also said Thames Hospital could be used more effectively. He said they intended getting more patients to Thames for minor general surgery and endoscopy procedures, re-establishing a gynaecology list at Thames and strengthening anaesthetic support.

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