Frustration, low morale at SDHB, review says

Southern District Health Board staff have low morale and feel unaware of the direction the organisation is heading, a scathing confidential review of the board says.

The review findings are echoed in the board’s own recent staff satisfaction survey, in which employees questioned whether their leaders were good role models and whether they communicated well.

External consultant Leena Singh, who was commissioned by the Ministry of Health to assess the SDHB, said in her review there was a concerning level of low staff morale.

Both clinical and non-clinical staff felt there was a divide between themselves and the corporate side of the health board, and staff were frustrated at reactive decision-making and changing demands and messages.

"An overwhelming 50% of staff stated that they did not believe the organisation implements change effectively, that they do not have input over important decisions, that performance issues are not managed timely or at all, and that they were unaware of the direction of the DHB."

Ms Singh’s observations were backed up in a "high level breakdown" of the survey provided to the Otago Daily Times by the SDHB prior to a scheduled interview yesterday on the survey findings.

The five lowest-scoring categories in the survey included staff performance concerns being corrected in a timely manner, leaders communicating well, and whether or not organisational change improved efficiency.

The SDHB performed well in staff feeling comfortable about reporting concerns about patient safety, patients being treated with dignity and respect, and staff being generally friendly and welcoming.

The scheduled interview was cancelled after staff were called to an urgent meeting.

Yesterday the ODT revealed the findings of Ms Singh’s review, which included stinging criticism of the board’s management systems, strategic planning and project management.

She said the board was in "permanent crisis mode" and needed to improve its systems before the disestablishment of the health board system next year.

Recently appointed SDHB chairman Pete Hodgson said there were some issues with the report, but in general terms it had raised important matters and the board was likely to enact several of its recommendations.

National Party Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse said reports of the review suggested the SDHB was in as bad a mess, if not worse, than when the National government he was a part of sacked a previous board and replaced it with a commissioner.

"They need to not rearrange the deckchairs and to actually improve their performance.

"Ultimately the task is to ensure the most healthcare is provided for the resources they have and if they can’t hold hand on heart and say optimally that they are doing that then no amount of rearranging structures and governance is going to fix that in the next 12 months."


I must say I am not surprised at the report findings. I am surprised, however, by a measured and appropriate response by the Opposition spokesman. Has he not read his leaders memo on how to pitch National, so as to optimize their decline?

The decline of Public Health?



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