Nelson Marlborough Health reviews maintenance worker positions

The facilities services team at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, is being reviewed by Nelson Marlborough Health. (File photo)
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The facilities services team at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, is being reviewed by Nelson Marlborough Health. (File photo)

Four hospital maintenance workers could be made redundant if plans to outsource their jobs go ahead.

The facilities services team at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, is being reviewed by Nelson Marlborough Health.

Support services general manager Patrick Ng said one of the changes proposed was outsourcing four of six maintenance worker positions to a Blenheim-based contractor.

"This would mean redundancy for the four people in those roles," Ng said.

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"We appreciate that any discussion about redundancy is stressful for those concerned and we would offer support to those people."

Staff were invited to give feedback on a number of proposed changes in July, and a decision would be made next month, Ng said.

The changes were not a cost-saving measure, but intended to improve compliance and management, he said.

"The current model could be more efficient or functional, as it should be, prompting an improvement process and a need for change.

"Our overall proposal would add cost in the first year, and there would be modest cost savings on an ongoing basis. However, cost saving is not our primary objective."

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Wairau Hospital volunteer receptionist Kathy Hale said she was worried that outsourcing the maintenance team would put the safety of staff and visitors at risk.

Hale recalled several incidents in her seven years at the front desk where the team responded in less than five minutes, she said.

On one occasion, a radiator near the desk burst and scalding water was spurting over a 2-metre area, but the maintenance team arrived within minutes, Hale said.

"If they hadn't been there we would have been waiting half an hour for someone to stem the flow. The flooding damage would have cost a lot of money to repair, plus our health and safety was at risk as well."

Hale questioned whether hospital management understood the realities of day-to-day work at the hospital.

"There are several health board members from Marlborough. I know, because I voted for them. I wanted Marlborough to be represented. But they haven't got a clue what goes on here."

Ng could not confirm the work would definitely go to a Blenheim contractor if the proposal went ahead, but the intention was to contract a Blenheim company, he said.

"We are very conscious of the need to manage change very carefully and any outsourced service providers would need to prove that they can deliver services with excellent health and safety standards.

"Local contractors would most likely be required to be on-site every weekday and their contracts would also require specific response times for emergency and after-hours requirements."

A Nelson Marlborough Health spokeswoman would not confirm other proposed changes to the facilities service until a decision was made next month.

 - The Marlborough Express

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