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PSA misrepresenting the facts, says Waikato DHB

Waikato District Health Board (DHB) is disappointed by the NZ Public Service Association’s (PSA) actions to protest outside Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton today and the continued misrepresentation of the facts to both its members and the media.

Jeff Bennett

Jeff Bennett

Group manager mental health and addictions Jeff Bennett said the DHB had been in regular contact with the PSA organiser and understood both parties had agreed to a reasonable course of action.

“We agreed  we would meet with the union and provide a draft consultation document to the organiser prior to its release to members and staff.

“To receive a stop work meeting notice and then have members of the union from outside Hamilton turn up at our facility in such a confrontational way is not helpful for them or us.

“We have sought to engage with the PSA so we can listen to their concerns and they have not taken us up on that and failed to respond to our requests for information.

“This is an issue about safe rostering at Waikato DHB. This is a quality improvement initiative which we believe will deliver better care for our patients and ensure a safe working environment for our staff.”

Waikato DHB will continue its consultation with staff and will release a consultation document to them later today.

“We look forward to constructive feedback from them and their representatives.”

The purpose of the 4 & 2 project brief is not to cut costs but to look at the current 4 & 2 roster system – which has been in use in mental health nationally for many years without significant change – to see whether it could be improved for the benefit of patients and staff.

We do not believe the 4 & 2 roster, as it currently operates, recognises patient numbers or acuity.

“We are not the first mental health unit to review its rostering practices and their appropriateness to today’s delivery of care,” said Mr Bennett.

Waikato DHB believes the benefits of this proposal are:

  • Flexibility of schedule to accommodate personal commitments (e.g. request days off for family commitments, rather than applying for leave)
  • A more balanced work load throughout the shifts and week, to ensure there is appropriate and safe staffing at times of high demand (e.g. Clinical review meeting days)
  • Flexibility to work part time, within the same ward.
  • Offer a service user led therapeutic programme/ activity for extended periods.
  • Greater ability to safely roster individual’s annual leave without compromising staffing numbers.
  • Ability for all staff to meet and work with their manager and senior colleagues, who act as a resource for updating clinical practice.
  • Being able to work a schedule that supports staff to be available for individual service users and their families (e.g. special patient review panels, family meetings etc).
  • Ability to balance bureau staff shift times with identified staff gaps.

Consultation starts today and closes on Friday 15 May.

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