The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has accused Hawke's Bay District Health Board of being socially irresponsible by closing a GP clinic in Wairoa.

But HBDHB says the Wairoa general practice, known as the The Health Care Centre, was only ever temporary.

Health Care Centre patient records are being transferred to the Queen St Practice, which has agreed to receive the patients to ensure they have continuity of care.

NZNO said five nurses will lose their job as part of the closure of the GP clinic with 300 patients being transferred to the private care provider.


The DHB says the clinic was only set up as an interim measure to ensure Wairoa had sufficient access to general practice. The DHB-owned clinic was set up in 2012 during a period of uncertainty about primary care in the town.

NZNO Organiser Stephanie Thomas says members have complained that the DHB failed to meet the terms of the NZNO-DHB multi-employer collective agreement, as the decision was announced without consultation.

"Hawke's Bay DHB says this is a 'business decision' so it didn't need to consult," Thomas said.

"Our question is how can decisions like that be made - decisions that will have tragic outcomes for hard-working nursing staff - without seeking input from those affected so all options could be explored?"

The NZNO claim the five nurses will either have to move to the Hastings-based Hawke's Bay Hospital, 130km away, or risk losing their jobs in an area with high unemployment.

"These are people who have made their lives in Wairoa.

"They are sometimes the sole breadwinners, they have purchased houses, their kids attend schools and they are part of their local community.

"Hawke's Bay DHB management need to have a serious re-think about their obligations to the nursing staff who have worked with and for them in good faith to help meet the health needs of the people of Wairoa."


The DHB, however, say the organisation does take its social responsibilities seriously, and the health care centre, was a temporary facility until a practice was in the position to offer a quality, integrated health service that could attract and retain staff.

Service director Communities, Women and Children, Claire Caddie said Queen St Practice had an amazing model of care that was locally based and owned.

"They are experts in primary care delivery and we believe the Wairoa community will be much better served as a result."

She said she understood it was a stressful time for staff, and had met with them, both individually and as a group, on a number of occasions.

"The DHB is working hard to find jobs for all staff affected."