Two “auditors” from the Technical Advisory Service (TAS), one an Australian palliative medicine specialist and the leader a non-clinician, were in Hawke’s Bay last week to investigate complaints about care at Cranford Hospice.
TAS is a shared service used by a number of North Island DHBs to conduct “independent” reviews of program performance.
Since Hawke’s Bay DHB staff has dismissed complaints about Cranford as either “ancient history” or based on uninformed innuendo, but is nevertheless the entity to whom the audit will be delivered, it remains to be seen exactly how much impact this review will have.
The auditors are presently writing their draft report based upon interviews they conducted last week with nurses and others, after spending the weekend with Cranford management.
If there is anyone who would still like to come forward and speak with the audit team, they must do so by the end of this week. The lead auditor is Melissa Bailey. She can be reached at (04) 801-2783, 027-245-5235, or Melissa_Bailey@centraltas.co.nz
Perhaps contrary to what DHB Board members expect, the auditors appear to be operating from a very limited brief (the brief has not been made public).
The auditors say they are looking narrowly at the specifics of the complaints that were recently brought to the notice of the Health & Disabilities Commissioner. However, the specific complaints “officially” filed are merely symptomatic of an unhealthy management culture at Cranford supported by Presbyterian Services over a considerable period of time. Here is the brief BayBuzz recommended.
Whether or not the auditors will address the full range of management and governance issues — and how DHB Board members respond if they do not — is the million dollar question.
Once the draft report is written by the audit team, it will be submitted both to Cranford management and to DHB executives for their comments and response. Then a final report will be prepared. Left murky is how the auditors will evaluate management’s response. For example, the auditor would not confirm that the original complainant would have an opportunity to address any Cranford or DHB staff comments before the final report is completed.
And of course no one — auditors or DHB — have indicated whether they will release the final report to the public.
Meantime, we have learned that it’s business as usual at Cranford, with management — apparently presuming they will survive this immediate nuisance — threatening a full investigation into who on the Cranford staff has “leaked” information to outside parties like BayBuzz.
Another reason not to feel sanguine about this process.
Ultimately, whether this audit is deemed sufficient in scope and depth, as well as whether it is actioned, will be in the hands of the Hawke’s Bay DHB Board. They should have the final report in hand by the end of April, according to the lead auditor. May should be interesting.