Mayor wants more hospital information

Gary Kircher.
Gary Kircher.
Waitaki District Health Services has not been proactive enough in sharing information with the public about certain aspects of its recently announced organisational restructuring, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

On Monday, the Otago Daily Times obtained a copy of a confidential ''proposal of change'' document distributed to staff that included a proposed staffing restructuring and the reconfiguration of the hospital's layout to increase efficiency.

The document has caused a large amount of negative discussion around the community, particularly on social media platforms, which has caused public unease.

While Mr Kircher did not expect the Waitaki District Council-controlled company to speak publicly about the staffing aspect of the proposal, he said it needed to front up about other, less sensitive aspects, such as the proposed reconfiguration which would involve the hospital's high dependency unit, emergency department and outpatients department closer together.

''The board and management have a vision for what they want to achieve and its actually more services, not less. But they haven't been proactive enough in sharing that with the public and that's where they have really let themselves down.

''The issue with the Oamaru Hospital is it was always going to attract a lot of attention and emotions, and quite rightly so. My belief is the communication from the hospital to the wider public needed to be as upfront as possible and most importantly, explain the reasons why it needed to be done.''

He said he had met hospital management staff and board members to discuss the issue and that the council would ''keep a close eye'' on it.

In a statement, Waitaki District Health Service chief executive Ruth Kibble said the proposal was ''strictly confidential to WDHS, its staff and board'' and that it would not comment on specific jobs that are affected.

She said the company would release information to the public at a later date.

''The board and management intend to communicate to the community when it is in a position to do so. To enable this, we will be holding a series of community meetings during the first week of March. The board wishes to reiterate that the purpose of this proposal is to place the hospital in a strong position so that we can provide more services locally. We will be encouraging feedback from all parties in order to get the best outcomes for our community.''

Consultation with staff started on February 11 and closes on March 11.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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