When we last reported, an outside “audit” was underway of Cranford Hospice. That report, slated for delivery by April 9, is now expected at the end of April.

Meanwhile, at the instigation of management, on April 6 a private investigator from the firm Abraham Consultants began investigating “leaks” about complaints at Cranford. Presbyterian Trust (PSEC) management is seeking to determine who on the staff is responsible for giving information to the complainant who triggered the independent audit, as well as to “the media” (read: BayBuzz).

PSEC and Cranford managers met with staff on March 23rd to warn them of the investigation, and sent formal notice by letter on April 1. However, staff has not been informed of their legal right to refuse to meet with the investigator.

This is a blatant attempt by management to further intimidate the caregiving staff at Cranford.

Keep in mind that a major root of the deep disaffection amongst Cranford staff – and complaints to the audit team — is precisely this culture of bullying and intimidation.

Incredible! In the face of complaints serious enough, in the judgment of the Health & Disabilities Commissioner, to warrant an ongoing independent audit of Cranford’s practices and dysfunctional culture, management hires a private investigator to conduct a witch-hunt. What don’t these people get?!

All this after two all-staff “mediation” sessions in December and February intended to improve the organizational culture and give Cranford a fresh start.

To all the kind people who dropped coins in the cans of nice ladies raising funds for Cranford recently … is this what you had in mind? A gold coin for a witch-hunt? How about all you corporate sponsors … is this the kind of management practice you’re keen to endorse?

And what does the DHB, Cranford’s primary funder and supervisor think about this? DHB staff were unwilling to comment, terming the private investigation an “internal matter” to PSEC. I suspect some DHB Board members think otherwise.

In addition, staff are being told that because a few disgruntled employees have spoiled the reputation of Cranford, the hospice has been unable to recruit a new Medical Director. [In February, the current director announced he would be leaving this month.] If this situation persists, in-patient service might need to be shut down (i.e., all patients treated at home, in institutions, or at the hospital). It seems like PSEC is preparing for such a contingency by laying the groundwork to blame a “handful of complainers” for any reduction in service.

But judging from information BayBuzz receives almost daily, staff disaffection is in fact widespread, with more to surface.

In light of these developments, it seems almost incidental that back pay issues with nurses have still not been resolved … the Nurses’ Union has re-engaged on the matter with the Department of Labour.

Is this the profile of an effectively functioning institution?

Yet through it all, the nurses – who are totally devoted to giving Cranford’s patients the best possible care – have soldiered on. They do so in a setting whose already abnormal stress — which most of us couldn’t bear — has been greatly amplified.

In any other organizational context, these employees would have linked arms long ago and issued an ultimatum: Either the management goes, or we go.

Here, the managers are inexcusable. The caregivers are priceless.

Because Cranford is at the meltdown point, it’s time for the public, which cares deeply about the institution, to ponder who they think holds its soul. Is it the managers, who bear responsibility for the worsening situation. Or the caregivers, who continue with determination to honour their profession and their personal commitment to their patients.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. Its a no contest. The answer lies in the last sentence. The soul of any hospital service lies in its caregivers who soldier on with their commitment to their patients whatever rages around them.

    Florence Nightingale set the benchmark on the battle fields that tens of thousands aspire to and surpass around the world on a daily basis.

    I have been admitted to Napier and Hastings hospitals on average

    once a year since 1988. Not once has that care or emergency services faltered even during the traumatic transition from two hospitals to one.

    They are deserving of quality management in support of their front line duties. That includes those elected to oversee this is the case.

    I hope the private investigator gets the united silence treatment.

  2. I think this is a complete disgrace.

    We sadly lost our brother to cancer last year and the hospice nurses helped us through some of our darkest hours.

    How can the hospice possibly be run by a man clearly with no soul or moral compass.

    Perhaps the private investigator needs to be turned on to this man…

    Thank God for the nurses.

  3. Doug Abraham (Abraham Consultants Ltd) is a well known local PI/debt collector/repossessor/evictor.Lets just say his reputation is not wholly positive.
    Not adverse to issueing threats on behalf of his clients to those he is seeking to intimidate, such as,
    “If you elect to discuss these matters externally, you do so at your own peril.”.
    If your interested in hearing more about Mr Abraham and like-minded individuals I have a cracker of a story for you.

  4. What a shame that Cranford Hospice is such a mess. As a former NZ trained nurse and someone whose mother was cared for so beautifully there by the wonderful staff, it is heartbreaking that administrators have put their interests before the caregivers. Imagine using as a threatening tactic withholding pay from the hard working staff. Isn’t this illegal in NZ? This is the worst kind of bullying one can imagine. Good luck to the staff for holding their own.

    Please keep up the great work on this issue.

  5. i can vouch for stephen fox's comments re our dougie!

    amateur hour with dougie…but he wins by default from lack of competition…. he raises rottweillers and shows them around the country…and why not?

    as for those hillbillies @ pressbutton support running their machiavellian witch hunt of the decent staff at cranford…all i can say is " bad karma, boys, bad karma!"

  6. That the CEO Mr Keane has decided to shoot the messenger and not address the message is illustrative of weak leadership.If he was confident in his abilities and stance he would welcome open discussion amongst staff.

    That Cranford staff have been and continue to be bullied by the likes of Keane and Abraham should be concerning to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of working with or using the services of Cranford Hospice.

    Mr Keane should grow the requisite male parts and engage with the staff himself, instead of wasting hospice funds on a witchhunt (ACL is not cheap but is a waste of money.His investigations are amateur)

    However I suspect Mr Keane does not have any degree of insight which would facilitate this change.

  7. Let's not forget the pompous, arrogant little twat who remains CEO of Presbyterian Support. Shaun Robinson has a lot to answer for. He is the despotic misogynist who instigated the whole restructuring of Cranford Hospice. He is the master puppeteer who pulls Barry Keane's strings. What have Robinson and Keane got to hide?

    Why does the PSEC board allow themselves to be manipulated and misinformed by Robinson?

    Does HBDHB condone the use of palliative care funding to continue this investigative circus?

    And why does our beloved HB Today not take up this issue of local importance? Could it be that Ron Hall (chair of PSEC Board and previous deputy-editor of HBT) is still the piper that plays the tune?

  8. Thankyou Alister for telling it like it is.

    These bullies employed a weak woman as director of nursing to futher their cause.She was in conflict with the most experienced staff early in her tenure as she directed change without consultation with those who understood the culture of in which they worked/lived.

    She has stoodby without comment when Keane has been at his most inappropriate.She has offered no support as staff ordered to attend meetings with private investigators.

    The HR also weak and fails to support as Keane denigrates the nurses.

    The expediture to date must be exorbitant.The annual financial report eagerly awaited..

  9. Surely enough is enough!

    When are the good burghers and those with influence in the Hawke's Bay community going to stand their ground and stop this sad situation slipping further into the mire? I am saddened to see a situation where, it would appear, the support of most, if not all, of the staff at Cranford for their CEO and the local Presbyterian Social Services Board has been lost. The Hawke's Bay Community is grieving.

    Those with responsibility for the expenditure of public monies including; government funds, donations and bequests to Cranford, need to stand accountable. Those responsible for leading, yes I did say leading, Cranford and Presbyterian Support Services have had their opportunity to do so. Their performance is best judged on its merits – that is over to you as members of the community.

    Eight years ago almost to the day I lost my beloved father, Greg Gear, to cancer. Through out his illness Cranford staff delivered care of a global standard. In my assessment they were and remain to this day, professional. Thank you. Kia kaha.

    I shudder to think what my Dad and others who have passed this way would be thinking now if they could see the hurt and anguish that exists across the Bay.

    It is interesting to note that leading thinking around of the delivery of services within our society today encourages active community input and involvement. If we understand the community's needs and work to meet those needs we will have high levels of support. My Dad, Greg, taught me that goodwill is earned, and then leased daily from those you grant it to us. It cannot be demanded. Goodwill is only as good as our last encounter with those involved.

    The recent actions of those involved, calling in a private eye, to determine who 'leaked' a document(s) has without doubt further alienated staff and the community. It is time to stop creating diversions! Those responsible for the governance at all levels, including the Hawke's Bay District Health board, must consider the effect and focus on righting the cause of this issue.

    Surely those responsible need to take time to pause – and as David Lange so simply said – "have a cuppa of tea" – while thinking carefully and making the necessary changes before moving on with rebuilding Cranford.

    Ian Gear

  10. Unfortunately, Mr Gear, such a reasoned and heartfelt response is wasted on the likes of Robinson,Keane and Abraham.

    There is an undercurrent amongst Hawkes Bay management in all arenas that they do not tolerate healthy open discussion amongst staff.They fail to recognize that the average worker has certain inalienable employment rights and they use the likes of "..our Dougie.." to bully and intimidate.

    Whats more in this particular instant they may have infinged upon "whistleblowing" legislation (protected disclosure etc).If any of the staff would like to contact me and talk about a further complaint to the HDC or appropriate body ,my e-mail is SDRFOX@HOTMAIL.COM.

    More importantly do not let these bullies intimidate you and stand your ground.Bear this is mind these people only act like this because they are afraid of what you have to say.

    Dr Stephen Fox

  11. Shocked to hear that more staff made redundant from Cranford!


    Who has driven this new bout of sackings?

    Why has this not been reported before now?

  12. Even more ironic is that the HBDHB are currently advertising nursing positions at Cranford Hospice externally on their website! Why then, only a matter of months ago and at a great cost to PSEC, did 18 highly experienced and competent palliative care nurses loose their jobs in the initial phase of the restructure that took place? In my mind none of this makes sense. The one thing I am clear about however, is that Cranford remains deeply in trouble!

  13. I'm told that the art therapist, grief counsellor and massage therapist will be made redundant soon in an effort to convert our previously well regarded provincial hospice into a "specialist palliative care" unit. Apparently they are considered to be too big a risk to have on board despite the fact that all three have worked at Cranford for a number of years without incident. Sounds vaguely similar to the 18 nurses who lost their jobs recently – yes 18 went despite PSEC/DHB's press statement at the time indicating 12 redundancies (job well done to PSEC's PR guy).

    They will be replaced with a physio and a couple of psycho analyst type people. A physio's focus on rehabilitation doesn't quite marry up with what I thought Cranford is all about but what do I know. Clearly the people in suits with no palliative care experience who are now running the show know better.

    Incidentally, the DHB is now advertising for more nurses (check out its website) to staff Cranford when the inpatient facility reopens in November – with 4 instead of 8 beds. One has to wonder then why 18 nurses were let go only 6 months ago. Maybe it had something to do with those nurses not getting along with the old manager. Word out of PSEC is that they became too concerned about their patients' needs instead of bowing to management's "my way or the highway" style. In days gone by they would have been applauded and supported for advocating patients' rights – or at least listened to by the decision makers. Under PSEC/DHB's stewardship that unfortunately didn't happen much to the detriment of Cranford and HB.

  14. Informed in the past that the move to DHB was due to lack of qualified doctors and potential danger to patients from underskilled nursing staff,has this problem been redressed?

    Public have been proud to support Cranford in the past. To be hear at the open day that more staff made redundant last week was a disappointment .

    " Deeply in trouble", why? MORE staff to be jettisoned?

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