ASMS

Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

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Auckland DHB needs to come clean about its cost cutting intentions, says ASMS

20 March 2014 By Lydia Schumacher
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Lydia Schumacher

The ASMS is calling on the chief executive of the district health board responsible for the country’s biggest public hospital needs to come clean about any intentions to cut medical staffing costs.

“We’re extremely concerned by an email from Auckland District Health Board Chief Executive Ailsa Claire to senior managers and clinical leaders which strongly suggests drastic cost-cutting and job losses are being considered,” says ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell.

To read the full text of the Auckland DHB email.

To listen to the Radio New Zealand interview with Ian Powell, and Morning Report’s interview with Radio New Zealand Health Correspondent Karen Brown. Transcripts of these interviews are available.

“We know DHBs are struggling to make ends meet with the funding available to them, exacerbated by the Government’s expectation that they excessively focus on achieving national health targets,” says Mr Powell.

“The Government needs to take responsibility for the situation DHBs like Auckland find themselves in, as there are broader issues here about the level of health care funding and investment in the health workforce. Cutting costs for short-term financial relief at the expense of quality health care or the front line clinical workforce is absolutely not the answer.”

“The workload for hospital specialists only ever increases. Already the government and DHBs generally are ignoring the fact that entrenched specialist shortages have become the norm in public hospitals. Actions such as not filling specialist or nursing vacancies, for example, will add to the stresses faced by the overstretched specialist workforce. This can only be bad for the standard of patient care.”

Mr Powell says Ailsa Claire needs to explain what she is planning and why, the options being considered, and the potential impact on services and the clinical workforce.

“The language used in the email makes it clear the Chief Executive is planning measures which could have a big impact on hospital specialists,” he says.

“It is also disappointing that in response to the public release of the Chief Executive’s email Auckland DHB has issued a media statement suggesting that it is no big deal. But in her email she said the situation was ‘financially unsustainable’. In her email she also said: ‘Gilbert we need to action a coms plan on this urgently’. Her media statement is the ‘coms plan’.

“The only decisions that should be made are those that make good clinical sense. Unfortunately there is an absence of clinical sense in the Chief Executive’s email,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR