Restructure at Oamaru hospital proposed

All  nursing roles at Oamaru Hospital may be disestablished and re-appointed under an organisational restructure proposed by Waitaki District Health Services.

A document distributed to hospital staff and leaked to the Otago Daily Times yesterday details the roles that may be axed and the reasons behind the move.

The "proposal for change'' document said a review conducted by Waitaki District Health Services chief executive Ruth Kibble and Gore Health chief executive Karl Meltzer in late 2018 had "looked at ways to meet the challenge of financial sustainability and clinical safety'' faced by the Waitaki District Council-owned and -operated company.

That review was in addition to a joint-review of services it carried out in 2017 alongside the Southern District Health Board, which funds the company.

The proposal said the company's board could not continue to sustain the financial losses it had suffered in recent years and cash reserves had been used to underwrite its losses.

The company recorded an operational deficit of $688,655 in the year to June 30, compared with $558,095 in the previous year.

Under the 18-page proposal, the full-time community health services/allied health manager role would be axed and replaced by one of two options - a clinical team leader across the entire allied health team or a nominated leader per 12 month period.

All 10.8 full-time equivalent administrative roles would be disestablished and eight full-time equivalent administrative support roles created.

All registered and enrolled nurse positions in the inpatient area and registered nurse roles in the emergency department, and district nursing area would be "disestablished and all positions filled would be re-appointed to using a skills matrix as proposed'', the document said.

Staffing levels would be reduced in some areas, but increased in others.

The nurse educator role would also be axed.

The hospitals 3.4 full-time equivalent occupational therapy roles would be reduced by 0.4, all orderly and maintenance roles cut and cleaning roles changed.

Maternity ward staff were not affected by the proposal.

Waitaki District Health Services chairman Chris Swann said he was "not in a position'' to comment on the proposal, but the company would be making a statement "very shortly''.

Reports that up to 70 staff could be affected were "just not correct'', he said.

Ms Kibble was unable to be contacted yesterday.

A staff consultation period started yesterday and will close on March 11.

A decision on the proposal is scheduled to be announced on April 8, before affected staff are notified on April 15, appointments confirmed on April 29 and the proposal, if accepted, implemented on May 27.

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