News that the Government has appointed a Commissioner to replace the Southern District Health Board is hardly a surprise given the mounting pressure it has been under to do more with a lot less, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson David Clark.
“Southern DHB has been under the gun for some time. It has made a number of quite drastic cuts over the last six years as it struggled to maintain services, at times putting patients at risk.
“Until now, the Government has maintained a façade of non-interference. However it appointed five Board members, including the chair, and has had a Crown monitor on the Board with a direct line to the Minister for nearly six years.
“With a commissioner in place Jonathan Coleman can no longer continue the charade.
“National’s ongoing under-resourcing of health is at the heart of this issue. Its reluctance to carry out a full review of the funding model has had an adverse effect across New Zealand.
“Southern covers the largest geographical area in the country. Today’s problems stem in part from the merger of the Otago and Southland DHBs five years ago, when little was done to work out how it would impact on the region.
“The Board was under huge pressure and was desperate to meet expectations. Jonathan Coleman now needs to ensure adequate funding to ensure the region’s health needs are not put at risk.
“The real test of the Minister’s intervention will be a properly funded health service. The South will know he has failed if sods are not turned on a full rebuild of Dunedin’s tertiary hospital before this term of Government is up,” David Clark says.