A top specialist nurse caring for hundreds of diabetics is being forced out of Queenstown by a bureaucratic health bungle.
Jenny Britland, 54, leaves her job on July 1 after 13 years, a victim of Southern District Health Board dithering over renewed funding. She’s accepted a new post in Auckland.
It’s “an enormous loss”, Queenstown Medical Centre boss Dr Richard Macharg says.
“She’s just so good at doing what she’s doing.”
Wakatipu Diabetes chair Adele Jackson is “gutted”. Britland cared for Jackson’s diabetic daughter for almost 10 years.
“Jenny knows a lot more than the doctors here [about diabetes] and they’ll admit that,” Jackson says.
QMC employed Britland and dietitian Helen Reid under a diabetes contract funded by SDHB.
But three months ago SDHB warned QMC the contract was at risk.
SDHB funding stops on June 30 and the new Southern Primary Health Organisation was to become diabetes paymaster on July 1.
The establishment date of the new PHO was then delayed until October 1, leaving QMC without diabetes funding for July-September – and uncertainty after that.
Macharg nagged SDHB for three months to bridge the July-September gap.
“I sent a number of emails to them. The problem is we haven’t been able to get any certainty on what’s been happening with this contract.
“We weren’t able to say to [Britland] that we’d have this contracted job available for her.”
After ignoring Macharg for months, SDHB came through within 24 hours of Mountain Scene’s involvement.
The diabetes contract will now be funded during July-September “while we sort things out”, SDHB finance boss Robert Mackway-Jones says.
They should have advised QMC sooner, he admits.
“Communication breakdowns happen.”
It’s too late for Britland.
With the uncertainty, she went to the job market and was snapped up for a full-time diabetes role in Auckland after 32 years in Queenstown.
Starting at QMC in 1997, Britland dealt with 70 diabetics – now about 360 are registered.
Queenstown is different from the rest of New Zealand, she says.
“Normally, only 10 per cent of people have Type 1 [diabetes] which kids and young adults get. Here, because of our lower age profile, it’s 30 per cent.”
Despite the funding extension, Macharg says QMC still has a problem.
“We don’t have Jenny now [and] we don’t have anybody [locally] that I’m aware of.”
They’ll do their best to find a temporary replacement.
Macharg’s “very hopeful” their contract will be renewed from October as diabetes is “a listed priority” of the Health Ministry.
“That would allow us to look for a replacement who would hopefully approach Jenny’s calibre, given she’s such a great loss to our organisation and to the district.”
Britland is “disappointed and hurt” at how SDHB handled things.
She’s also scornful it apparently took media intervention to secure the July-September funding.
“It’s all about SDHB’s image rather than the effect on patients.That’s what gets me wild,” she say