Members of the Golden Bay community are angry that the service director role at its new integrated health centre has been dissolved, and say the centre should not be run from Nelson.
After leading the centre through its first stages, service director Rhoda McDonald is leaving after a restructure.
She was offered a different role, as nurse manager operations, but has turned it down. She has declined to comment.
Supporters of McDonald, representing iwi, Rural Women, Grey Power and St John's in Golden Bay, are upset to see the role disestablished, saying she did an excellent job of amalgamating health services into the new health centre, and is a skilled manager.
The group says the move to change the structure of the health centre is premature and destabilising. They question whether Nelson Bays Primary Health (the PHO) is meeting its legal obligations to reduce inequalities within the PHO area; build relationships with their community, including accountability; ensure the PHO's operations are transparent; and ensure the accessibility of health services.
They say Nelson "doesn't have a clue" about what happens at the Golden Bay health centre, with many decisions being made on the spot, rather than being discussed with health professionals over the hill.
"Nobody knew, until they started using it, exactly how it was going to work," said retired Bay doctor Helen Kingston.
"We've all worked really hard to create a fantastic facility for a fantastic community. I'm worried the quality will be chipped away at and the service eroded," said trustee of the Golden Bay Community Health Te Hauora O Mohua Trust Linda Sanders.
Sanders said she was personally "very concerned" by McDonald's departure.
"I believe the PHO and where appropriate district health board need to explain to the community how they will ensure they cover the staffing gaps, both short and long term."
She saw it as a "premature restructuring of key personnel" and that the community needs some reassurance that services will not be affected by the staffing changes that are about to occur
Long-time Golden Bay physiotherapist Peni Connolly, who practises at the health centre, said that the disestablishment of the clinical services role and the relocation to Nelson would seriously affect the co-ordination between the four services as well as staff morale.
"It's essential to have a person who has an intimate knowledge of how the facility operates physically on site. This move to ‘remote control' from Nelson in no way contributes to building capacity at the newly established centre," she said.
West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor said the biggest danger was the "disconnect" between management in Nelson and Golden Bay.
At present four roles need to be filled by August 1 - nurse manager operations, medical clinical leader, administration facility leader and associate nurse manager operations.
Nelson Bays Primary Health chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said he was now shortlisting for the administration/facility leader role, while the nurse manager operations role finished being advertised yesterday. The associate nurse manager operations role would be "advertised shortly" while the two medical clinical leaders are still in place.
He said the restructure involved considerable feedback from staff in the Bay, all of which was considered "and impacted on in the final decision".
"I totally agree with Damien O'Connor and hence the new leadership structure in Golden Bay will include an increased expectation that management from Nelson attend meetings in Golden Bay," he said.
A meeting to update the public about what's happening will be held this Monday at 7pm, at the Takaka Fire Station.
Swanson-Dobbs and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming have been invited.
- The Nelson Mail
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