Jobs at risk in health closure

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 24/11/2012

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A Maori health organisation which looks after 192 people in Nelson is to close, leaving the jobs of eight staff on the line.

Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke Trust will cease operating on December 31.

It also has 22 staff based in Blenheim, with 500 people on its books.

Trust manager Aroha Metcalf said while the trust would close, the services for clients would continue.

Because it was a health service, the District Health Board had a duty of care, and the trust was now working with the DHB on a transition from January 1.

However, there were no guarantees for staff in the transition.

"I'm feeling quite stressed and very concerned, particularly for our staff," said Mrs Metcalf.

The decision to close had been made with a heavy heart, she said.

The trust had made the decision due to financial concerns.

"We could not balance the books. If we continued trading, quite possibly we could end up in the red."

NMDHB director of Maori health Harold Wereta said the DHB acknowledged the difficult decision made by the trustees. "We have worked closely with the trust to find a sustainable solution; however, this was not possible."

Work will continue with all Maori health providers in the region to develop a Maori provider coalition. It was in development stages with key decisions expected early next year, he said.

Mrs Metcalf said the trust had a projected budget of $1.6 million for 2013, with most coming from the DHB and smaller contracts with the health and social development ministries.

The trust has operated in Nelson for more than 10 years.

Te Rapuora provides mental health services, a community support worker, a child and youth mental health clinician, a day programme for about 12 people, parent advocacy support, Like Minds Like Mine, needs assessment co-ordination and Providing Access to Health Solutions (Path).

About 80 per cent of the people it worked with were Maori, said Mrs Metcalf.

It had more clients in Blenheim because it provided a wider range of services, she said.

The trust had a meeting yesterday afternoon to work out a clearer picture of its financial situation, and would hold a public meeting in Nelson with two weeks.

Some of the financial difficulty was in operating from two bases, travel requirements, and lease arrangements that had been entered into when the rental market was at its peak, she said.

"I'm pleased the DHB has confirmed services will continue, but I'm also very sad for Te Rapuora," she said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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