Cuts to training and development mean some Southern
District Health Board staff are facing unsafe situations, a
Public Service Association organiser says.
PSA southern region organiser Julie Morton said training and
development was approved only in very limited circumstances.
The PSA this week announced national strike action involving
nearly 12,000 New Zealand health staff, nearly 1000 of who
are in the South.
The action affects a wide range of workers, including
physiotherapists, dietitians, social workers, various
technicians, mental health and public health nurses, and
Staff will work to rule from August 25 to September 10,
observe an overtime ban next month, and undertake two short
strikes next month, in the biggest health industry industrial
action taken in a decade.
Workers have been offered a 0.7% pay increase, and the union
has cited training and development issues which are
particularly acute in the South.
''On a local level, I've never seen [the workers] more
collective,'' Mrs Morton said.
''We had a good response to the [strike action] ballot, in
fact very high in Southern compared to some of the other
''They're despondent, demoralised, but very collective and
Mrs Morton said staff started to approach her in the past
year to 18 months complaining about training and development
requests being declined.
Recently, it was tightened up still further, and the board
approved training and development only if it was
She cited the example of a speech language therapist expected
to treat paediatric dysphagia, which required special
That had been declined.
The board's response to the issue was pending.
''What she's saying is 'I'm not safe to work in that
''For [speech language therapists] it's important because
they can choke people.''
There had been disagreement with the board about what
constituted mandatory training, and the people making the
funding decisions tended to be managers, rather than senior
In response, patient services director Lexie O'Shea said the
board would discuss the issues with the union, rather than
make public comment.
''We feel it is more constructive to reaching positive
outcomes to discuss issues raised by the PSA with them