Hospital staffing being addressed

Chris Swann
Chris Swann
Clinical and management gaps at Oamaru Hospital are being addressed by the Southern District Health Board and Waitaki District Health Services, a senior health board staff member says.

The sudden resignation of former hospital chief executive Robert Gonzales, and other resignations, had put pressure on the hospital's ability to recruit doctors, and came on top of a shift from a specialist to generalist model at the hospital, which was part of a continuing transition which involved doctors being trained and recruited as rural health specialists.

At present, the hospital used its own staff, locums and some part-time doctors to fill its roster.

Waitaki District Health Services chairman Chris Swann said the appointment last week of Dr Fazal Mann to the role of clinical leader and rural hospital medical specialist was vital to the hospital's effort to attract doctors to Oamaru so it did not have to use locums.

''The appointment of a clinical leader is going to be more attractive to doctors professionally to come to Oamaru Hospital.

''It will have a large impact on recruitment and help address concerns the company and other people have had.''

Those concerns included speculation on social media that local GPs had been asked to fill in at the hospital's emergency department, which Mr Swann denied was the case.

''I am not sure that GPs are qualified to work in the emergency department and am not aware of any GPs being called on to work in the emergency department.

''At the moment we have some full time doctors, part time doctors and locums, so there's quite a mixture. At the end of the day we have got a roster to fill and we have been filling it. We have got a plan to execute ... I think we will get the right doctors with the right leadership and having that kind of leader will be the base of the triangle for that.''

Southern District Health Board strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro said the health board was aware of the hospital's staffing issues.

''This requires both short-term and long-term solutions. In the immediate term we are working with the board to address the clinical and management gaps currently at the hospital.

''This is challenging for the hospital, but our greater concern is ensuring consistently available care for the community.''

She said the health board would continue to work with the company to ''implement the outcomes'' of a joint review conducted last year, which included staffing structures.

The Waitaki District Council controlled-company was now engaged in the process of recruiting doctors as well as a new chief executive.

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