New Zealand Labour Party

SDHB shakeup set to be highly unpopular

The Government is using the Commissioner tasked with sorting out the beleaguered Southern District Health Board to do its dirty work, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“New information reveals Kathy Grant is being paid extra to offset damage to her reputation in the likely fallout from what looks set to be a massive downgrade of the region’s health services

“Ms Grant is in an unenviable position. SDHB has already made some pretty unpalatable decisions in its attempt to reduce costs, including cutting funding to rural hospitals and outsourcing breast screening and food services, while work is also underway to claw back pharmaceutical and staff costs.

“The Commissioner now has to go even further, as indicated in a report to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. It notes she will have a more ‘hands on’ role than that of a Board chair and that the personal risk to her reputation is high, ‘as finding a more sustainable solution to improve the DHB’s financial position in a short period of time will ultimately impact her own professional standing’.

“That clearly points to more extreme cuts. Given we are yet to see an approved 2015/16 annual plan or any signal that the Government will provide any additional funding to help SDHB manage its deficit, Ms Grant is facing an extremely challenging task.

“She has been given a huge financial responsibility and she is being paid to make the big calls. There is no need for any ‘softening up’. She must now have an open and honest discussion with the people in the South and the health workforce there about the issues they are facing and the possibility of further losses of services to other regions.

“Certainty is also needed around the Dunedin Hospital re-build timeframe, along with a commitment of capital and construction to begin in 2017.”