The nurses' union is sceptical of claims Southern District
Health Board cost-cutting will not affect patient care.
The board has said it has to cut costs in part to afford
capital charges for the as yet unconfirmed Dunedin Hospital
Last week it revealed its forecast deficit was now $13.9
million, nearly $5 million over budget.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial services manager
for the DHB sector Lesley Harry said when chief executives
approved all spending, staff entitlements for meal breaks and
overtime were typically denied in district health boards.
''And when those entitlements are not approved, the result is
short-staffed wards and the potential for compromised patient
care. For everyone's safety, ward and unit managers must be
allowed to approve spending when it is needed.
''We want the Minister of Health to top up Southern DHB's
coffers and make sure there is enough money for capital
investment, maintenance and safe staffing levels that allow
the nursing team to provide high quality care to every
patient, every shift, every day,'' Ms Harry said.
The board has said two senior executives would focus solely
on cost reduction, and the areas targeted for cuts are
travel, staff recruitment, and spending delegation levels.
Chief executive Carole Heatly has said she will also pay more
attention to the finances.
A spokesman for Ms Heatly said she was not approving all
spending, but would lead the ''overall process'' to reduce