Nurses’ union says leaked document shows Plunket wants to cut comprehensive well child checks

Nurses are warning changes to Plunket services in Auckland will cut clinics or clinic time for many babies.

In an internal Plunket document obtained by RNZ, the child welfare group said there could be fewer home visits and parents might have to travel further to clinics if they had the resources to.

Families "may have more clinic appointments vs home visit", the document said, in an appendix titled Equity Planning Team Resource.

Read the full document here (PDF, 16KB)

Under risks, the document listed "potential for clients to 'fall through the gaps'" and "community impact - what if it is made public?"

The Nurses Organisation union said nurses had been told "they will run 10-minute appointments only. This is not enough time, even for an appointment where a baby is only weighed".

Plunket said in a statement to RNZ that none of its services were changing.

RNZ asked Plunket to explain the apparent contradictions between its internal and public statements, but it did not, and has not made its chief executive available for interview.

The nurses' union fears the changes could be part of Plunket moving to curtail its universal services, which see it offer care to nine out of 10 babies born in New Zealand, in response to a staffing crisis.

A Nurses' Organisation submission to the proposed changes said :"Plunket management should solve the short staffing and staff retention problems before introducing changes that will not alleviate these problems."

Read Nurses' Organisation submission on Plunket's Equity Planning Draft (PDF 1.5MB)

Its members had been told families in affluent areas would be deemed "low needs".

Plunket's public statement said it was not changing its universal service, but its internal document uses the term "progressive universal service".

This was a contradiction, the union said: "A service that is only offered to some people is no longer a universal service."

Plunket's internal document said the aim was increased staffing, visits and support in high-needs areas, and having an "equitable" spread of supervisors and front-line nurses, it said.

Plunket's 300 nurses in Auckland were already overworked, the union said.

"An overwhelming majority of members consulted oppose the planned changes and had grave concerns about associated matters," the Nurses' Organisation submission said.

"Members report that at verbal briefings, they have been told that Plunket will be cancelling home visits and full clinic visits for some clients and replacing these with 'speed clinics' or 'drop-in clinics' where those clients can arrive without appointment to have their babies weighed only," its submission said.

"Nurses have allegedly been told not to follow up clients who are offered a drop-in clinic service but don't arrive."

Current clinic appointments lasted 45 minutes; it was not clear which parts were meant to be left out, it said.

Plunket says no staffing or service changes

In a statement Plunket, said it was "not making any changes to staff numbers or making any changes to the services provided to customers".

"Plunket is not introducing speed clinics to replace our usual services. We have been piloting some open clinics in West Auckland, which enable customers to drop in if they wish and have any top of mind matters addressed at a time that suits them - so whether customers receive a check at home or at a clinic depends entirely upon them."

However, its internal document identified an interruption of continuity of care for babies as a risk.

Plunket nurses' pay was now 5 percent behind DHB nurses following those nurses' recent pay settlement, union organiser Danielle Davies said.
The agency was trying to put a "bandaid" on the staffing crisis to the detriment of baby healthcare, she said.

A five-day consultation period on the proposal ended recently; it is unclear if this extended to all staff or just managers.

The union was waiting to hear back from Plunket. The details of the proposal provided in the consultation were inadequate, Ms Davies said.

Plunket's annual report last year shows just over a third of its 570,000 contacts with families were in the three highest deprivation areas. It had 51,000 new babies referred to it, which was nine out of 10 babies born nationwide.

Earlier this year, Plunket cut a dozen or so mostly management and administration jobs in the central region around Wellington.

It has also been moving to centralise its management, triggering concern among local area organisations that they would be nobbled.

Plunket has said its multi-million-dollar deficit is mostly due to the costs of rolling out an electronic health recording system nationwide. It gets three-quarters of its funding from the government.

The Nurses' Organisation is also concerned whether the agency is using enough casual nurses to pick up a patient load, and that some Saturday clinics in Auckland appear set to shut.

By Phil Pennington
www.rnz.co.nz

Plunket is denying it’s considering cuts, but the Children’s Commissioner remains angry about the suggestion. Source: 1 NEWS



Wellington bus network changes to be reviewed after council bombarded with complaints

Wellington's new bus network will be independently reviewed after ongoing complaints of buses being late, too full to board or not showing up at all.

The regional council today voted today to have the system reviewed and the results reported back by December.

Since the system was changed in July the council has been bombarded with complaints.

Councillors have also asked officers to change a route so that it began and ended in Kilbirnie, as it previously did, and for feedback on whether some other routes can be changed.

Regional council chief executive Greg Campbell said he took full responsibility for fixing the network's problems.

He said the review needed to be done quickly.

"Any commuter that is left stranded, or a bus that is late, that is of extreme concern. We have to get a clear view of what is happening. What an independent review can really do - particularly for management and council - is give a view of what has happened and articulate that well."

At the beginning of the meeting several Wellington residents addressed the council to let it know they were still unhappy with the new bus routes.

A Wellington principal said the recent re-jig of the routes was making his students late for class and putting them in danger.

St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie's rector Neal Swindells told this morning's meeting about 100-150 boys were using the new service.

"Currently our two 753 buses from the station in the afternoon are significantly overloaded and are unsafe. On Monday this week, they were both loaded to the gunnels and there were 30-odd students who couldn't get on. So what they do is they cross the road to catch the new 24 bus, which by the time it leaves St Pat's now is also overfull."

rnz.co.nz

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Motorcyclist in critical condition after crash near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left a motorcyclist in critical condition and caused a section of State Highway 2 to close for a time near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say a motorcyclist hit a barrier at Kaitoke this afternoon about 4:30pm.

The male rider was taken to hospital via helicopter in a critical condition.

The road at SH2 Kaitoke, Upper Hutt is now open again after closing for a time.


A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

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Government reveals details of emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley

Details of the email exchange between former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran and Derek Handley were revealed today during Parliament's Question Time. 

Ms Curran said she was not aware of RNZ's policies surrounding meetings with Minister's at the time.
Source: 1 NEWS

The messages were sent over the role of chief technology officer, with Ms Curran using her private Gmail account to send the emails. 

An offer to Mr Handley for the role was retracted by the Government last week, resulting in a $100,000 pay out to the entrepreneur. 

Acting State Services Minister Grant Robertson told the House the following about three exchanges between the pair about the role. 

First exchange

August 11: 

"Derek Handley emails Clare Curran about the chief technology officer position and questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest."

August 14

"Clare Curran replies to that email, confirming a call to discuss these matters."

August 15

"Derek Handley replies to that, confirming times for the call."

Second exchange

August 19

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding logistics around the next step on the process of appointment, including the content of any public statements that might be made, and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)."

August 20

"Derek Handley responds to that email to Clare Curran about those issues, including the contact he has had with DIA and management of conflicts of interest."

Third exchange

August 21

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding issues that would be on the work plan of the chief technology officer and attaches some relevant background documents on those issues.

"On the same day, Derek Handley responds to Clare Curran, acknowledging the material and referring to the discussions that he is having with DIA."

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

The chief technology officer was intended to "drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand", said the then Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, when the role was announced last December. 

The new Minister for Government Digital Services Megan Woods said the Government have put a "full stop" on the process.

Ms Curran was stripped of her position as Minister for Government Digital Services after not disclosing a meeting with Mr Handley previously.


Over 20 vehicles vandalised overnight in suburb on Auckland's North Shore

More than 20 vehicles have been damaged overnight in an area on Auckland's, North Shore.

Police say a number of vehicles' tyres have been vandalised in Birkdale's, Tiri Tiri Road and Woodhams Street area.

Anyone who has had their car damaged is urged to report it to police if they haven't already done so.

Police are making area enquiries and conducting scene and forensic examinations and are interested to hear from anyone who may have information.


John Healy says people drastically underestimate the risks of leaving kids or pets in their car.
Source: 1 NEWS