Letter to the Editor

The recent interest in our hospital services has been very encouraging, however it was with concern that I read Dave Feickert’s recent letter titled Maternity move fears.
Mr Feickert states that “we now know that we can have sufficient staff coming in the near future to create a full complement for our OB/GYN services; so that every woman who wishes to have her baby in Whanganui Hospital can do so”.
This statement is misleading. As I have said in recent public meetings, we have one O&G specialist confirmed to start in August but subject to medical council and immigration approvals.
And we are working with a promising second potential new recruit but we are not as yet, in a position of having an accepted offer, let alone having the external requirements met. As with the recruitment of all specialists we remain very cautious until we see the ‘whites of their eyes’.
Mr Feickert went on to say that the reason every woman wanting to have a baby in Whanganui can do so is because “‘we have a community search group, led by competent people now looking for the one or two additional skilled people”.
To many readers this might imply that our highly experienced recruitment staff are not competent and require assistance from well meaning members of our community who, I must point out, are not medical specialist recruiters.
An important part of our community consultation process has involved meeting with the WDHB Working Group for O&G Specialist Recruitment and listening to any, and all, ideas that members of the public might have about how we can better promote our city and attract O&Gs to Whanganui.
While WDHB staff are positive about working in partnership with the community, I want to make it clear that specialist knowledge is required to work effectively in this international labour market.
The community participation provides us with ‘an extra tool in the toolbox but it is not the toolbox itself’.
Medical recruitment is highly specialised and I’m confident that our recruitment staff do an excellent job in searching for, and attracting, senior medical staff with the qualifications and experience recognised by the Medical Council of New Zealand.
I understand the community concern regarding recruitment, which I might add, is only part of the issue faced by the Women’s Service.
However, in the absence of knowledge and understanding of this labour market, it is unhelpful to make assertions on the WDHB’s recruitment efforts.
As one with this knowledge and understanding, I wish to put on record my respect and thanks for the sterling work that our recruitment staff do day-by-day.
Julie Patterson
WDHB chief executive