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DHB staff numbers queried amid deficit


Eli Hill

The number of employees on the Wairarapa District Health Board’s payroll came under attention during its full board meeting on Monday.

The conversation was sparked by board member Rick Long who brought up the increase in the number of employees over the past five years.

From June 2014 to March 2019, the number of employees at the DHB increased from 421 to 505, with the number of administrative/management staff going up by 21.

All up, there was an increase of 50 nursing staff, 21 administration/management staff, six medical staff, five Allied Health staff, and two support staff.

“I would’ve thought that over that period – the exact period where we’ve been struggling with our deficits that maybe we would’ve been reducing staff rather than adding to staff seeing as we only have 94 beds in the hospital,” Long said.

“Most businesses when they’re in our position would be reducing staff rather than adding to staff.”

Long said that with the money the DHB had been spending on IT [$6 million is budgeted for the next few years] spending more on administrative staff wasn’t a good look.

But executive leader of finance Susan Flavin said, “Some of [the increase] will be compliance, we need people to do clearance reporting and things like that and there will be a little bit of changing between categories.”

Fellow board member Jane Hopkirk said that having more administration staff meant that clinical staff didn’t have to do the administration tasks they’d had to in the past.

“If you look at the salary brackets its actually better for us to have more administration staff.”

Board member Adrienne Staples said she thought it was important to keep quality administration staff around to make sure the DHB got all the funds that it was entitled to.

“We need to ensure that they are working at a level where they are not over-worked and they leave, and I don’t see an increase in administrative stuff as being negative.”

However, Staples mentioned that board members were constantly told that the hospital is at capacity, that staff are overworked, that the DHB wasn’t going to have enough beds.

“And yet on page 39 of the board books it says that we had 777 less medical admissions and 228 less Emergency Department presentations [than the same time last year].

“That’s actually quite telling of where we’re going. We probably need to change our cognitive factor that perhaps things aren’t as bad as we’ve been told.”

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