Breast-screening mammographers are shocked yet relieved by
the surprise decision they will continue to be employed by
the Southern District Health Board, union spokesman Rhys
''They have been put through the wringer since September last
year, only to end up back at square one - they will not be
made redundant after all,'' Mr Walters said.
The move came yesterday, resolving a disagreement over
redundancy payments, which had resulted in the mammographers
declining jobs last week with new provider Pacific Radiology
Group because the health board would not pay redundancies.
Yesterday, the health board told mammographers it would
rescind notices advising they were surplus. Retained as
health board employees, they would be managed day-to-day by
PRG, which had agreed to the move.
Mr Walters, of the Association of Professionals and Executive
Employees, told the Otago Daily Times the 15 mammographers
had been on an ''emotional rollercoaster''.''
Working so closely with cancer patients takes an emotional
toll, which never fades,'' he said.''
It certainly hasn't been easy for the mammographers working
with the cancer patients, answering their questions about the
future of the service, providing a top-notch professional
service, and all the while keeping their own emotions in
check during the turmoil.''
While it was a welcome development, ''the mammographers'
level of trust and confidence in their employer is not at all
in a healthy state'', Mr Walters said.
The disagreement had raised concern the switch-over from the
health board to the private provider on August 4 could be
disruptive for screening patients, who number about 18,000 in
Otago and Southland.
The board had elected to exit the National Screening Unit
contract and allow it to be picked up by the private sector.
It is also outsourcing the diagnostic breast-care service to
PRG, which is staffed by the same mammographers.
Health board chief executive Carole Heatly said in a
statement to the ODT the decision to employ the mammographers
guaranteed the continuation of a safe, high-quality service.
PRG chief executive Lance Lawler could not be contacted for