DHB cries foul over late mail deliveries

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014

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New Zealand Post has come under fire once again over mail delays, this time causing patients to miss hospital appointments.

Canterbury District Health Board has criticised NZ Post, and also its mail contractor DX Mail, after "frustrated patients" began contacting the board about mail delays last September.

Many patients had received hospital letters after their scheduled appointment.

The situation had become an "area of priority" for the CDHB, chief executive David Meates said.

DX Mail and NZ Post are both refusing to take the blame.

"Despite meeting with service providers, it is unclear where the problem lies," Meates said.

DX Mail is contracted to handle all CDHB mail, but it only delivers within urban Christchurch. The rest is channelled through NZ Post.

Meates said patients living in rural Canterbury had reported the most delays.

It is the second time in a fortnight NZ Post has been criticised.

The Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa last month exposed NZ Post for deliberately "holding back" standard mail as an incentive for people to pay more for FastPost.

A NZ Post spokesman yesterday admitted the company was still "bedding in" changes implemented last October.

It reduced its services and the standard post delivery time was extended from overnight to three working days to prioritise FastPost.

NZ Post had delivered at least 95 per cent of its Christchurch mail on target in the last three weeks, he said.

John Maynard, president of the Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa, southern district, said the CDHB concerns were a "critical barometer" of NZ Post problems.

"When it comes to people's direct health it is almost like a matter of life and death. We will be taking this up quite vigorously with the company," Maynard said.

"There is a clash of the cultures between the workers who regard NZ Post as a public service and a management attitude that says we have got to cut costs."

The NZ Post spokesman said he was unable to comment on CDHB's concerns, as DX Mail held the contract and had its own delivery

network within urban Christchurch.

However, he suggested the delays could have occurred when DX Mail passed the non-urban letters to NZ Post.

DX Mail representative Dean Bracewell said the company delivered about 65 per cent of CDHB mail.

The remainder was passed on to NZ Post to reach rural and national areas.

In February, DX Mail met the CDHB and "issues over mail delays" were discussed, Bracewell said.

"It is our belief that over 99 per cent of what we do is delivered on target," Bracewell said.

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Age Concern had also faced "huge, huge issues" with NZ Post delays in urban Christchurch, chief executive Simon Templeton said.

"In recent months we have seen many, many examples of it taking about 10 days for a letter to reach its destination - it's unbelievable."

- The Press

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