Ministry of Health confirms number of job losses

The PSA union says the losses equate to one in six positions being cut at Manatū Hauora.
The PSA union says the losses equate to one in six positions being cut at Manatū Hauora. Photo credit: RNZ / Angus Dreaver.

By Hamish Cardwell for RNZ

The Ministry of Health has confirmed a loss of 123 roles at the ministry as part of the coalition government's cost-cutting measures.

The PSA union said this equates to one in six positions at the ministry being cut.

This means nine fewer jobs will go than what was indicated by the government in April.

Some of the roles going were already vacant.

About 250 jobs were being disestablished and 100 would have minor changes (for example the lines that some staff report to). While, 124 new positions would be created.

Public Service Association Assistant Secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said specialist teams supporting clinical, community, and mental health have been downsized.

Cuts include clinical leadership and in the team responsible for protection and rights of those receiving compulsory mental health treatment, she said.

Fitzsimons said the ministry was continuing with plans to downgrade full-time roles at the Suicide Prevention Office but had reversed the decision to remove the Director's role.

The Health Ministry said a meeting with all staff was held at 11am today after a three-week consultation process where more than 450 submissions were made on its plan.

It had made some changes according to that feedback including the following:

  • Extend the ability to apply for voluntary redundancy to all affected kaimahi

  • Amend the 2024/25 remuneration proposal to be more equitable by including a performance related payment for staff in lowest salary bands.

  • Make changes to the appointment processes for new positions in response to staff feedback.

  • Make changes to the organisational structure which will come into effect as at 2 September 2024.

The ministry said it was working to support those affected.

The ministry will have "a series of workshops including navigating change, financial well-being, CV development and interview skills".

It said no clinical services would be affected as a result of the changes.

New suicide prevention structure

Mental health, addiction and suicide prevention were health system priorities, the ministry said.

It said it was establishing a new Programme Director for Suicide Prevention. This ensures the current suicide prevention functions and work programme will be delivered, but the people and teams that deliver this work will be organised differently.

A multidisciplinary team would deliver on the function and work programme of suicide prevention.

It said it would have a combined capacity of 7.5 full-time equivalent staff.

Specialist capabilities from the Māori Health Directorate and functional leaders from other directorates will support our approach as a whole-of-ministry priority.

"Different teams with time and resources focused on suicide prevention will mean that the Ministry can bring the necessary expertise to address New Zealand's high levels of suicide, particularly among young people and Māori, as a health system issue.

"Health New Zealand remains responsible for funding and delivering suicide prevention programmes and supports to the community."