More Maori on DHB staff urged

More could be done to boost the Maori workforce at MidCentral District Health Board, according to board member Richard Orzecki.

A health board report profiling the workforce showed 5.6 per cent identified as Maori, and fewer than one in three was male.

It said the proportion of Maori working at MidCentral was lower than the proportion of Maori across all district health boards.

In 2007 there were 138 Maori working at MidCentral, representing 6 per cent of the workforce.

This year there are 135 Maori, or 5.6 per cent of the workforce.

At MidCentral, the largest representation of the workforce is European at 59 per cent, and the smallest is a combination of Middle Eastern, Latin American and African at 0.08 per cent.

Mr Orzecki said more Maori staff, particularly those who spoke te reo, increased the number of patients who could engage on a cultural level.

‘The chief executive made the point [at the Hospital Advisory Committee] that Maori represent 16 per cent of the actual district health board population so I think, well if that's 16 per cent of the population, that is 16 per cent of the people who present to the hospital - but we have 5.6 per cent engaging with them," he said. "As an observation I do think Maori tend to engage better when they're talking in Maori, especially around issues with whanau and that sort of thing."

Mr Orzecki said other board members had commented on jobs being given based on ability "and it should, but what are we doing to encourage Maori people to work here".

"I'm not saying the DHB isn't doing it, but the numbers say Maori aren't engaging," he said.

Mr Orzecki said the Workforce Strategy for the health board outlined only developing staff - not to increase Maori staff participation.

MidCentral District Health Board spokesman Dennis Geddis said MidCentral and other district health boards in the Central Region had endorsed the Te Whiti Ki Te Aru Maori Health Workforce Development Plan, which includes initiatives on increasing the capacity of the Maori Health and Disability Workforce.

The health board was also working with students under its Kaimahi Ora Maori Workforce Development Strategy.

Mr Geddis said the MidCentral workforce development programme co-ordinator was working with priority schools within the region including Palmerston North Boys' High, Palmerston North Girls' High, Tararua College, Freyberg High School, Manawatu College and Tu Toa.

"We have linked these schools with the national Kia ora Hauora programme and Massey health initiatives," he said. "Kia ora Hauora is a Maori Health Workforce Development programme aimed at students and current health sector workers to promote health as a career. This programme has been developed in response to the national and international shortage of health sector workers - and the demand for more Maori health professionals in the sector."

Manawatu Standard