Health board wants service to go sky-high

The Southern District Health Board is turning to Air New Zealand for help to improve its customer service.

Chief executive Carole Heatly revealed the initiative at a hospital committee meeting in Invercargill this week.

Contacted after the meeting to elaborate on the move, Ms Heatly responded briefly by email.

''Our senior nursing team are talking to Air New Zealand based in Dunedin to come and give a talk at the hospital on how Air New Zealand delivers excellent customer care.

"This is an opportunity to see how customer service training takes place in another industry where, similar to ours, safety is of paramount importance.''

The talk would be directed at nurses, clinical staff, receptionists and other staff as necessary.

University of Otago health systems authority Prof Robin Gauld approved of the move, saying the airline industry's potential lessons for healthcare had generated immense interest.

As an example, he cited the World Health Organisation's surgical safety checklist, which was based on airline safety checks. As well as safety, the airline industry worked hard to reduce waste, treat the public well, and encourage harmonious relationships between staff.

These were all areas in which the healthcare sector could improve.

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