Waikato DHB puts staff and patients at risk in order to save money


The Public Service Association (PSA) is alarmed that the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) is proposing to cut the 4 and 2 roster system, established nationally, for mental health nurses. The PSA represents more than 210 mental health nurses working at Waikato DHB, and nearly 2500 nationwide.

WDHB released a proposal document that has “disestablishment of the 4:2 roster” as one of the key objectives, despite it being recognised as the best method to ensure patient and staff safety in the often dangerous job that mental health nurses do. Despite later formally retracting this objective, their refusal to engage in any meaningful way with PSA representatives does not bode well for staff voices to be listened to.


Richard Wagstaff, PSA National Secretary, said “Patient and staff safety cannot be put at risk simply to save money,”


“Our public health system is facing funding pressures, but the answer is not to put staff and patients at risk.


“WDHB mental health nurses are already the targets of an unacceptably high number of assaults, and this change would only make things worse.


“WDHB’s process has also been flawed – they only invited the union representing mental health nurses to be involved after they had started a review aimed at disestablishing the 4 and 2 roster.


“Our members on the frontline are strongly calling on WDHB to withdraw from the project in its entirety.


“The 4 and 2 roster is the standard across DHBs for mental health nursing and is a key part of how the system works.


“Mental health nursing is a highly specialised role, and DHB bean-counters would be foolish to think they know better than those on the frontline,” said Richard Wagstaff.