Health Service Trust board welcomes audit
The Whangaroa Health Service Trust Board is under fire.
Members of the community - criticising its financial management, service delivery and handling of staff issues - are calling for an audit of the operation.
And the board welcomes such a move, saying it has nothing to hide.
Things came to a head last Wednesday when the advertised election of a Totara North representative was postponed after complaints about the procedure.
This is symptomatic of a wider problem and a "huge lack of trust", Totara North resident Peter Sehmb says. He attended the meeting and called for a show of hands to indicate community support for the election to be rescheduled to another date.
"The election should have been a simple and peaceful happening but I can't understand how an election could be held in the manner it was, with one member aware of the protocol while the other was not."
He said the new candidate had a week's notice and had difficulty finding out what the procedure was so she was unable to inform constituents and supporters.
On a wider scale, he said the board had made mistakes but instead of apologising and welcoming community support, it appeared to be in damage control mode.
He said it could take a three day wait to see a GP.
"There appear to be plenty of doctors and there are fewer people in the area than five years ago."
He says many people in the community are concerned.
"Questions haven't been answered. There is a lack of public trust and staff are scared of losing their jobs. It would make sense if the trust were to ask for a ministerial enquiry to clear the air and their names."
Trust chairwoman Jannye Freeman blamed the unsettled situation on misinformation, fostered by a small group.
"There is going to be an audit of the organisation by central government and we have nothing to hide. We welcome it."
Ms Freeman says the trust is strongly committed to preserving the status quo of free health care through the present challenging economic times and into the future.
The trust has been criticised for its involvement in a failed business venture.
The board says it was the trust's "hand up not handout" philosophy that led to what is seen in the community as a misguided project, involving a catering contract at Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club.
The venture resulted in an $85,000 loss to the trust and the matter is presently with lawyers.
Chief executive officer Garry Ware says financial constraints over the past three years required cost cutting, including redundancies or reductions in employment hours for staff.
Services for the elderly at Kaeo include the 20-bed Kauri Lodge.
The election of a Totara North trust board representative is now expected to be held in the third week of January.