Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds

The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, Tairawhiti, Southern and Waikato regions are all in line to have Compass Group take over provision of food services.

“If those DHBs don’t accept the proposal they have to stump up thousands of dollars to come up with a business case for keeping the service in-house. That is borderline blackmail.

The move to outsourcing was initiated by Health Benefits Ltd, set up by the National Government to implement cookie-cutter solutions to rising costs.

“HBL, which is in the process of being wound-up, is being investigated by the auditor-general. Meanwhile our DHBs are having to pay for its mistakes.

“HBL has not been honest about the implementation costs for those DHBs with their own kitchens. They keep parroting the financial benefits of the plan. However the gains only occur if every region approves the proposal.

“DHBs are being forced to swallow an unsavoury scheme at a time when they are already under huge financial pressure from the Government to reduce debt.

“Labour warned this would happen. This is just the beginning of the HBL hangover,” Annette King says.