9 Apr 2022

Few dollars no substitute for good conditions and safe staffing levels - doctors

9:30 am on 9 April 2022

The senior doctors' union says health boards are lazily and cheaply trying to lift staff well-being, while they are working overtime, double shifts and critically understaffed.

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Photo: 123RF

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says throwing staff a few extra dollars is no replacement for hiring more staff and allowing proper rest and meal breaks.

The union says Capital and Coast District Health Board put an extra $10 into staff bank accounts on top of their normal pay, which caused issues for payroll and some staff ended up with less than normal.

At Wairarapa DHB, staff were given literal peanuts - "an irony not lost on them", the union's executive director Sarah Dalton said.

"It is like life-meets-satire really, just a bit of an eye roll. It is disappointing when an extra $10 in your pay is put in as a taxable sum rather than a non-taxable allowance so your total pay goes down.

"I'm sure that wasn't the intention but it's just not thought through," Dalton said.

Dalton said these initiatives may be well intentioned but were tone deaf.

She said staff well-being would be better boosted with safe staffing levels and fairer pay.

"We also have health care staff who can't take leave at the moment because there is no cover, or they can't access basic entitlements like proper rest and meal breaks.

"A bit of coffee money and snack boxes are no substitute for decent conditions and sufficient staffing," she said.

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