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Auckland DHB Spent +$95k on "Values Workshops"

In an Official Information Act request obtained by Right Minds NZ, dated March last year, it has been revealed that the Auckland DHB spent over $95,000 on workshops for staff to promote their "new values" in 2014. The project was initiated by Ailsa Clare, the new CEO, and approved by the board.

The supposed reason for the changes in values was because the old values had been developed 10 years ago and without input from staff and patients. The DHB claimed this change would "increase staff engagement and contribute to a positive patient experience and improved health outcomes."

The values of the organisation were changed from "integrity, respect, innovation, and effectiveness" to "welcome, respect, together, and aim high." The change was enacted with professional help from an overseas consultant and a week of workshops with staff. Several people who were shown the two lists remarked that the new values seem like a "dumbing down" of the old values.

Our source, a former DHB employee who wishes to remain anonymous, and will be referred to as Michael, suspects that the Taxpayers' Union, who lodged the IOA request, never publicised this document because they may have feared reprisal against relatives of their personnel who work for the DHB. It is also possible that they did not deem this spending as wasteful.

The breakdown of expenses given is as followed: $82,000 professional expenses, $80 on two gifts, $1,500 on materials, $4,000 on advertising, $8,000 travel and accommodation costs, and at least 750 hours of staff time. An expert was flown in from the UK, Tim Keogh, and the document also shows that in addition to the $82,000 paid for professional consultation in 2014-2015, another $78,000 was paid to this man the following financial year, 2015-2016.

Michael says the $95k is an underestimation, because the true cost of paying its many thousands of staff to attend the workshops would inflate the figure several fold. The total cost of staff time is not disclosed and that, while attendance was claimed to be optional, staff were effectively required to sit through these meetings. He also added that travel expenses for the consultant were likely business class tickets and hotel fees. Michael believes this money should have been spent on cutting waiting times for specialist appointments or surgery, and that if Ailsa Claire wishes to leave her mark on the DHB, she should do so by doing a great job, not by spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money on corporate nonsense. He highlighted to us that while the CEO received huge bonuses in 2015, she did not do so in 2016, perhaps an indicator of her perceived performance.

Perhaps the next time that the Auckland DHB decides to change its values, they should add "spending taxpayer money well" to the list.