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The Southern region health system has lost seven doctors and 11 nurses who have either resigned or had their employment terminated for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The medical staff have been joined in their stance by 12 other Southern District Health Board staff who have also lost their jobs for choosing not to comply with the Government’s vaccine mandate.
Data released by health services organisation Tas said 92 DHB staff nationwide had resigned, and 341 had had their employment terminated.
A further 1028 people had been stood down, meaning 1.8% of the 80,000 national DHB workforce had been affected by the vaccine mandate.
"If staff choose to be vaccinated while they are stood down, they will be able to return to their DHB," health boards spokeswoman Rosemary Clements said.
"In total, 52 doctors, 518 nurses and 90 midwives have now either been stood down, resigned or had their employment terminated because they have declined to be vaccinated against Covid-19."
Because of the way Tas has collated its numbers, categories of medical staff with fewer than three affected people have been labelled "other", with the organisation citing privacy reasons for doing so.
That made ranking the SDHB’s position nationally in terms of losing certain staff difficult.
However, its termination of seven staff identified as doctors was the highest of the 20 DHBs, and in overall staff laid off it ranked fourth, having also terminated seven nursing contracts and 12 other staff.
It still had 17 nurses, three senior medical officers, six midwives and 13 other staff on stand down.
Ms Clements said staff were only terminated if no other alternative role or redeployment could be found.
"This step has been taken when staff have confirmed that they will not be vaccinated," she said.
"DHBs are complying fully with all employment law requirements and we have engaged and agreed with health sector unions on the processes we are following.
"Service delivery impacts will vary between DHBs and mitigations are in place where needed to minimise any impact to services."
As of yesterday three of six regions in the SDHB area — Queenstown (99%), Dunedin (95%) and Central Otago (93%) — had passed the 90% mark for eligible people who had had at least their first dose of vaccine.
It was hoped the remaining areas — Invercargill (89.4%), Waitaki (88.7%) and Clutha (88.6%) would pass the milestone soon.
Queenstown now had 92% of its eligible population fully vaccinated, and Dunedin was close behind on 89%.