Healthline staff working for Whakarongorau are confused and angry, after finding out they’re no longer needed.
They were relied on repeatedly throughout the pandemic, but on Wednesday afternoon, staff were told they had just days left on the job.
“We were given nine days of notice that our fixed term contracts were ending, despite being told we were permanent,” one clinician told Newshub.
“We weren’t even given the opportunity to have a support person – I had to find out about the redundancies through a friend,” they said.
Another clinician, who has more than 15 years of health experience, told Newshub they feel they’ve been cast aside.
“We were blindsided … many of us are shocked and upset about the callous nature Whakarongarau has approached this.”
That confusion is all to do with an email sent to staff on August 26, which appeared to promise permanent contracts.
“Being able to move our front-line fixed term clinical employees to permanent agreements, I am really pleased to say this has been signed off by the Board today,” the organisation wrote.
But then on Wednesday, Whakarongarau did a u-turn.
“The Government announced the new COVID-19 management framework… earlier than we had expected,” a document read.
“We can’t afford to have specialist roles to the degree we have.”
GPs say the healthcare service is essential because it helps reduce the pressure on them.
“A service like Healthline is actually very, very important. It does need focus, does need resource, as we move forward,” Dr Bryan Betty, RNZCGP’s Medical Director, told Newshub.
Whakarongarau said the decision was made due to a drop in demand, caused by COVID-19 case numbers.
“It’s changed. I know our people are really sad to be in the position they’re in. My job is to support them,” CEO Andrew Slater told Newshub.