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Public service agency cuts: Ministry of Health staff called into meetings to learn job fate

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An all-staff meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday April 4, where Director-General of Health Dr Diana Sarfati will release the ministry’s official organisational change proposal. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Ministry of Health workers have been called into meetings, as the agency seeks to slash back on costs in response to the Government’s directive.

The ministry is seeking 6.5 per cent cost savings, as agencies have been urged to find ways to trim back on costs from between 6.5 to 7.5 per cent on average, ahead of Budget Day.

An email sent to an impacted staff member, seen by NZME, states the ministry is “about to commence an organisational change process,” adding leaders will be meeting with staff whose position is proposed to be impacted or affected. Proposed changes range from title or reporting line changes to team size reductions or disestablishment.

Staff have been told they are able to bring a support person to the meeting, which they’ve been urged to prioritise.

In a statement, Transformation Programme office director Geoff Short confirmed staff began to receive invitations to meetings on the change proposal, from April 2.

An all-staff meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday April 4, where Director-General of Health Dr Diana Sarfati will release the ministry’s official organisational change proposal to everyone, including those not directly affected.

Consultation is proposed to run from that day to April 26, with feedback collated and final decisions to be made by June 30.

“It is expected a new organisational structure will be stood up in August,” Short confirmed.

“This is a difficult time for Ministry staff and they will need the time to review the change proposal privately,” he added.

The news comes after staff had returned from an Easter break. A memo to staff from two weeks ago shows Sarfati said there was “no good time” to inform people of the change proposals.

“We know people want information as soon as possible, so we have decided not to delay in any way,” her prior memo noted, adding proposals would see changes to roughly a quarter of roles at the ministry.

NZME has previously reported official communications showing job cuts were “likely” at the Ministry of Health.

Azaria Howell is a Wellington-based multimedia reporter with an eye across the region. She joined NZME in 2022 and has a keen interest in city council decisions, public service agency reform, and transport.



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