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Hundreds waiting for Prezzy Cards

GRAPHIC/WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

DHB says Prezzy Card inquiry a top priority

Wairarapa DHB has made public further details about delayed incentives for first vaccinations, together with information about an upcoming inquiry into alleged Prezzy Card abuse by staff.

Chief executive Dale Oliff said the DHB had developed terms of reference for an inquiry into allegations DHB vaccination staff attended a Saturday night dinner at a Masterton restaurant and paid for a large amount of food and alcohol using Prezzy Cards.

No timeframe for the inquiry had been provided, although Oliff described it as a priority.

An anonymous tipster had made the claim to the Times-Age.

Since early November, Wairarapa DHB has run a controversial vaccination incentive scheme offering $100 Prezzy Cards to encourage people to get their first doses.

Since news of the allegations broke, many shared on social media that they had not yet received their incentives, with some outstanding after weeks. Oliff apologised for the glitch and said hundreds were waiting for the late incentives.

“We do understand that many people that have received their first dose on or since November 6 have not yet received their $100 Prezzy Card.

“This is unfortunate, and we apologise unreservedly for the delay, in part related to supply and our ordering system to support the initiative. We believe there are several hundred people awaiting cards,” she said.

“Everybody having had the first dose from November 6 will receive their card before Christmas. We are working hard to ensure that can happen. People that cannot come into a clinic to receive their card can have it posted to them.”

Oliff said the inquiry into the allegations was a priority.

“We look forward to the results of that piece of work which are expected to answer many of the questions you have posed. We do understand the public interest in this matter, and we will be making a statement once we have all the required information to hand.”

She confirmed the DHB did not give Christmas gifts to staff, and the executive team hosted a staff barbecue.

“While some managers may choose to support team outings, for example, a team dinner, they will often fund that themselves on a personal level for their staff, or participants will contribute individually,” she said.

Wairarapa DHB has policies in place to ensure public funds are appropriately managed.

“For example, our DHB policies offer careful instruction on how staff should manage any gifts they do receive from external sources, and we do not approve DHB funding of alcohol.”

The inquiry was expected to identify if staff had breached stated expectations. Oliff said at this stage, the DHB was unaware of any confirmed non-compliance.

“We will take any breach of our organisational policies seriously,” she said.

Almost three months ago, single Prezzy Cards in $30 denominations were given to DHB staff who had worked long hours on national ‘Super Saturday’ vaccinations on October 16. The cards were a token of appreciation by the DHB and were not Christmas gifts or bonuses.

“The cards were to thank them for their effort over and above their normal responsibilities and at very short notice,” Oliff said.

Wairarapa DHB had vaccinated large numbers across the region in a short timeframe.

“The vaccination programme is controversial, and we recognise the conflicting opinions people have and often articulate, particularly on social media platforms.

“While we can empathise with those that take offence at some aspects of our delivery, our aim has always been to protect our people as best and as quickly as we can. I am proud of our achievement in that respect,” Oliff said.

The Ministry of Health previously acknowledged that this was a serious allegation. They were asked to comment on their policy on timeframes for investigations of this sort.

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