Protesters were loud in Hāwera on Monday afternoon, voicing their objection to a new structure being proposed by HealthCare NZ.

Ten members and supporters of the Public Service Association were on the streets outside the HealthCare NZ building, bearing placards and making their feelings known.

Healthcare NZ provides home care and support to vulnerable people for multiple DHBs, and manages community houses that provide 24-hour support for people with disabilities.

Like most care and support companies, it is privately owned and run for profit using taxpayer money.

Advertisement
One of the placards.
One of the placards.

HealthCare NZ chief executive Vanessa Dudley says HealthCare NZ currently has a proposal out for staff consultation offering a new approach to the organisation's structure.

"The proposed new structure, would help to deliver better customer-directed care."

The proposal would centralise the service and disestablish 200 jobs around the country, with an Auckland call centre replacing the local managers around the country.

Tina Goble, a PSA member, said it was important people in the community were aware of the proposed changes.

"People will miss out with these cuts. Our clients are vulnerable people who will struggle with having to call a faceless person in an Auckland call centre rather than talking to a local manager when they have a problem."

The job losses will impact the community as a whole, says Tina.

"Our clients live in our communities and they rely on the local managers, as do the staff who work with the clients. Being able to talk to someone face to face is important for the staff and for the clients."

The local managers bring local knowledge with them, says Tina.

Advertisement

"A person in an Auckland call centre doesn't know anything about a small town in Taranaki where a client lives. They don't understand if the supermarket is close or far away, if there is a bus available or anything like that."

Tina says clients of HealthCare NZ were meant to receive a letter regarding the proposal, but people she has spoken to say they haven't.

Vanessa says HealthCare NZ want to make it clear that the proposal does not include the closure of any of the branches across New Zealand.

"There are no changes to either the number of frontline clinical staff and support workers or the work that they do."

She says HealthCare NZ understands this is a period of uncertainty for staff. Staff have until February 20 to provide feedback.

A protester at the event, who wishes not to be named said they were concerned about how the clients would be affected.

"HealthCare NZ need to stop messing around and recognise it is better to have local people than a call-centre."

HealthCare NZ is making no further comment at this stage.

Stratford District mayor Neil Volzke says he is not sure what changes HealthCare NZ has planned for the Stratford area but reducing the local input seems a retrograde step.

"However Stratford residents are fortunate as they do have a choice of a locally owned community based service provider in Agecare Central. They provide community care and support services and operate from Maryann Rest Home."