Comment permalink

Claims the Southern District Health Board is a toxic workplace are "bang on", staff who have contacted the Otago Daily Times say.

Health board employees were reacting to a report in Saturday's Otago Daily Times highlighting several external reviews of the organisation which have raised staffing issues.

"Many staff are tired and exhausted but it's a case of suck it up or leave," one staff member said.

"It saddens me that the very institutions that seek to offer healthcare clearly demonstrate they don't know how to care for or respect their workforce.

"There are pages of emails and concerns but everything gets swept under the carpet and employees are nearly having nervous breakdowns," another staff member said.

Another SDHB employee said they had seen many occasions when senior staff behaved badly but there was no-one willing to tell them their behaviour was unwarranted.

"Your article is bang on," the person said.

"[There is] cowardly managerial leadership, ineffective HR processes and a complete lack of ability to address bad behaviour and poor performance."

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said last week the board recognised it had some long-standing challenges and needed to confront its problems head-on.

SDHB people, culture and technology executive director Mike Collins said the organisation had put in place a range of programmes to address workplace culture concern, with "Speak Up" - a course designed to promote staff to highlight issues to colleagues - proving to be a success.

"We have had 2500 people through that programme so far, which has given them strategies about how to create a strong culture around behaviour at work.

"An outcome of that is that we now have 50 Speak Up reps throughout the organisation who people can go to and raise their concerns in a confidential conversation. They aren't HR people, they are colleagues there to help."

The SDHB, which employs about 4500 staff, has had 11 complaints of staff bullying colleagues in the past three years and six sexual harassment or assault complaints.

A recently released report on the gastroenterology department said physical and mental distress appeared to be rife among staff, while similar concerns were raised in reviews of allied health, urology and ophthalmology.

Mr Collins said workplace culture surveys suggested there were certainly isolated problems, but he did not believe the SDHB had "across the board" issues.

"Workplace culture issues is a national and international issue in healthcare," Mr Collins said.

"It's not unique to our region ... but we want to be proactive in doing something about it.

"We don't want to be one of those big employers who put their head in the sand and pretend it's not happening. We want to create a strong culture."

Mr Collins said he did not believe the SDHB had reputational issues and job vacancies in the region had attracted a strong response.

"Like all hospitals we have some positions that are hard to recruit because of lack of resources in the system, but we are not seeing that [workplace culture] as being a big issue."



Not to mention the toxic culture some staff have towards patients, you complain about it then the HOD goes into damage control asking you not to lay a complaint and they will 'talk' to the staff member concerned and get back to you (which never happened).

As a person with a partner working for the SDHB this article is fully correct. Staff are expected to work through meal and rest breaks, enshrined in employment law, to be able to complete their taskings for the day.
Late working, after hours, is only paid very grudgingly by managers. Is there any wonder the DHB is continually replacing burnt out staff





Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter