No frontline hiring freeze claim is disingenous – Labour

Labour’s mental health spokesperson says the government’s claim there is no frontline hiring freeze is disingenuous.

MP for Taieri Ingrid Leary said she had been contacted by staff who said some vacant frontline roles had not been filled for months, and some nursing advertisements had been taken down.

Te Whatu Ora disputes those claims, and said frontliine staff were being hired.

Correspondence seen by RNZ, that appeared to have been written by Health New Zealand staff, described the claims frontline staff were not affected in by the freeze was a “blatant lie”.

“All nursing roles, bar one generic advertisement, have been removed from the Te Whatu Ora southern website,” one message reads.

“My colleague, a registered nurse, left Te Whatu Ora 9 weeks ago. My manager submitted a request for recruitment as usual. This process would have previously taken 2-3 weeks from application to the job being advertised.

“The spin from the government and Te Whatu Ora that front line services are not affected is a blatant lie. I am certain there are many, possibly hundreds of these situations across the country … it is ridiculous and dangerous.”

Meanwhile, an email sent to all staff by Southern Group Director of Operations Hamish Brown in June said a process was being developed to support the prioritisation of patient facing roles.

“More information will follow on how this organisation-wide pause on all current and new recruitment of hospital roles especially those that are not patient facing but still impact patient care, as well as Public Health roles that are not community facing.”

Leary said morale was incredibly low – “probably the lowest it’s ever been in this region”.

“It’s dishonest to say there is no hiring freeze on frontline staff when there are big gaps in the frontline staff, advertisements for those roles appear to have been pulled down, there doesn’t appear to be any recruitment happening and [staff who have emailed her are] saying that the right and left hand are giving them two different messages,” she said.

“The minister’s saying there’s no hiring freeze for the frontline and yet what they’re seeing on the ground is exactly a hiring freeze.”

Health New Zealand was refuting the claims, saying it did not have a hiring freeze in place for front-line roles, including in mental health and addiction services.

“At present there is a pause only on the recruitment of hospital roles that are not patient facing and Public Health roles that are not community facing,” a spokesperson said.

“There is no recruitment pause on clinical roles. Nationally in April and May 2024, around 3300 people accepted an offer to work for Health NZ. This number includes 1242 nurses, 501 allied health professionals, 201 resident medical officers, and 169 senior medical officers.”

Recruitment for clinical roles had been brought closer to the frontline, they said.

“This means recruitment decisions are being made where local needs are best understood and prioritised. Staff and patient safety and clinical delivery remain critical factors when making these decisions.”

Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey said he had met with Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa and “made clear my expectation that recruitment for mental health and addiction roles continue”.

He had been assured that the recruitment pause would not impact frontline mental health roles, he said.

“I have also been assured that other government priorities, such as growing psychology and psychiatrist workforces won’t be affected as they are seen as critical.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button