DHB's leadership gets lowest rating from staff

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Leadership at the Southern District Health Board has been ranked the worst in New Zealand by its medical staff.

A survey exploring how health professionals in New Zealand feel about their board's clinical leadership has put the Southern District Health Board last out of 19 DHBs.

The Clinical Governance Assessment Project results were released at a seminar in Wellington yesterday. They included feedback from three questions posed to more than 10,000 DHB doctors, nurses, midwives and Allied Health staff around the country.

Responses to the following three statements in the survey were analysed and reported on by University of Otago's Centre for Health Systems between April and November: Health professionals in this DHB work together as a well-co-ordinated team. Health professionals in this DHB involve patients and families in efforts to improve patient care. In this clinical area, it is easy to speak up if I perceive a problem with patient care.

Staff were asked to score on how they agreed with these statements.

The mean score for the survey showed 57 per cent of health professionals agreed with statements overall. The Southern DHB had 49 per cent of staff support for the statements posed. Responses from Southland and Otago staff were combined in the results.

Health policy specialist Robin Gauld said Southern's low scoring was probably because of "difficult circumstances" with the amalgamation of the Otago and Southland district health boards, a chief executive officer "vacuum" until the position was filled by Carole Heatly early this year, as well as funding issues.

The fact that Dunedin Hospital was an old hospital also came into play, he said.

"Yes, Southern ranks low, but there are some contextual circumstances."

Board chief medical officer David Tulloch said the board's current restructure was aimed at addressing the issues raised and improvement was expected.

The new partnerships in the restructure would mean joint responsibility and accountability for clinicians and management, he said. "Once they are properly in place, I would expect a vastly improved response."

A senior specialist in Southland said he agreed the Southern district was not strong "at times" but improvements were being made.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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