Treatment of hospital staff 'appalling'

Oamaru Hospital
Oamaru Hospital
Oamaru Hospital management has lost the trust of a "core group" of staff.

Also, there is a feeling among those nurses that they are being bullied out of their jobs.

The Otago Daily Times met two former and six present nurses last week and heard of "appalling" treatment from the management at the hospital since a controversial organisational restructuring proposal distributed to staff in February led to a wave of resignations.

"Since then, management has been bullying, they've been disrespectful. We've been undervalued, unappreciated and we've been treated appallingly, really," a present nurse said.

The ODT agreed not to identify the nurses who were speaking out against hospital management.

A nurse who left her job recently said management "misunderstand who we [nurses] are, completely".

"Nurses are patients' advocates. And they don't support us to look after those very people we want to look after.

"I've worked at lots of different hospitals, and overseas. I do my job for a thank-you from my patients and management. I never once ... had a thank-you from management in my time at Oamaru Hospital."

Waitaki District Health Services chief executive Ruth Kibble said she did not see the benefit of trying to resolve the dispute "in the media".

She rejected the assertion staff were being pushed out, and that some nurses were being treated appallingly.

She agreed there was a disparity between the two stories coming from the group of nurses assembled by the Waitaki Community Hospital Action Group and the group of staff she assembled to meet the ODT earlier in June.

She found the divergent narratives "difficult to understand".

"The external feedback we are receiving from many other members of the public is highly positive and contrary to the claims being made by the action group," Mrs Kibble said.

The ODT reported in June that 22 staff members had resigned at the hospital in the wake of the restructuring proposal, and on Wednesday hospital action group chairwoman Janice Clayton said resignations continued at the hospital, including two more tendered this week.

She said the hospital action group had three main concerns: the development of infrastructure at the hospital, the distribution of funding to the district, and safer staffing.

However, she had not become involved in the dispute until the restructuring proposal was leaked to the ODT in February.

The senior staff who had left since, and could continue to leave, were irreplaceable.

And the impact on the hospital was "huge".

"It's not `change' that they [nurses] are concerned about, it was the way in which they were treated in that process," she said.

"They [management] still haven't managed to come back, apologise, and they'll never do it now."



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