Schemes aid DHB staffing levels

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 12:00 30/07/2014

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There has been a flurry of complaints about staff vacancy levels at the MidCentral District Health Board - but the situation is actually improving.

Twenty-three complaints were made to April this year, up from only one last year, figures obtained by the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act show, despite the number of vacancies decreasing since last year.

For the past five months vacancies have averaged about 36.49 fulltime equivalent (FTE) positions, which is 2.29 per cent of the budgeted work force and is down from the previous six months at 37.9 FTEs, MidCentral DHB reported yesterday. This includes positions in allied health, nursing, midwifery and medical areas.

DHB human resources manager Anne Amoore said she was pleased with the figures, which showed staff were sticking around.

"It is clear that staff enjoy what MidCentral DHB and our region has to offer."

The battle to recruit enough staff has been a prominent theme for MidCentral for years.

But Amoore said there were no professional groups within the health board that had particularly low staff levels.

"From time to time MDHB does experience difficulties recruiting to some specialties, for example, anaesthetic technicians, sonographers and clinical physiologists.

"Over the past two to three years we have been successful in recruiting to traditionally hard-to-fill positions, for example, radiologists and emergency medicine physicians."

There were several initiatives in place to address staffing levels, which contributed to freeing up clinicians' time and improving patient care, she said.

"For example, the care capacity and demand management programme is being rolled out, which ensures the demand for patient care is matched with the resources required."

DHB patient safety and clinical effectiveness director Muriel Hancock said the increase from only four complaints over staff levels in the past five years to 23 already this year was because of an improvement in the system for categorising complaints.

There had also been 13 compliments received over staff levels so far this year, up from three last year, figures show.

Amoore said initiatives put in place in response to findings from a staff survey had contributed to the improved staff vacancy rate.

A team development programme had been introduced with more than 300 staff taking part so far and further groups were to begin the process shortly, she said.

The Human Rights Commission's annual good employer review, published recently, ranked MidCentral first equal out of 91 employers along with 10 other Crown entities who also achieved 100 per cent.

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"That we have gained 100 per cent in this latest Human Rights Commission report shows that we are committed to being the best employer we can be," Amoore said.

- Manawatu Standard

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