Southern DHB sacked for not delivering the impossible.

We now have legal consultant Kathy Grant, who has no experience in the health sector, as the newly installed commissioner who will be replacing the sacked Southern District Health Board. It will be interesting to see what essential services she will cut to keep within the budget.

Here is my letter that was published in the Southland Times last week:

It appears that our Southern DHB will soon be governed by a commissioner because it failed to provide core services within an unrealistic and arbitrarily designed funding system.
Relationships Aotearoa submitted its concerns to the Government about the inflexibility of the contract system to meet complex needs and the lack of appreciation for the true costs of quality services. RA has had to close its doors without a proper transition plan in place or replacement services established. Many vulnerable people will suffer as a consequence and place more expensive demands on our already stretched social services and health and justice systems.
The Southern DHB has been expected to provide core services across a large geographical region under a population based funding model.  In more densely populated regions it is much easier to centralise services but in Southland and Otago, where distances from a major hospital are substantial, a higher level of service capacity is necessary in outlying communities. These are life-saving needs and necessarily create greater demands on budgets.
To keep within funding constraints our DHB has cut essential nursing positions in Gore, dangerously reduced access to colonoscopies and our kitchen staff will be pruned as hospital food is outsourced to a cheaper provider.
What this Government doesn’t appear to understand is that if immediate health needs are not addressed appropriately the consequences of delayed or reduced treatments will put huge and costly pressures on services in the future. For a Government that promotes itself as having economic credibility, this short-term thinking will cost us dearly in more ways than one.


Peter Archer said…
Agree totally, and, sadly we have been there before and did not learn that lesson. I saw it close-up, as a worker at Wellington Hospital 1995-98, when Capital Coast DHB had a $50 million budget blowout and the Bolger/Shipley govt reacted exactly the same way and put in a commissioner, ie. blame the victim of their own policies for the problem that the govt itself caused, by drastically underfunding the DHBs. Tory govts always underfund the public health service, it is in their DNA, to pay for tax cuts for their wealthy mates, and also as part of a deliberate ideologically-driven strategy, to drive people into using the private health services.
bsprout said…
I agree Peter, this is just what National Governments do and then those following are accused of increasing spending when they try and repair the damage. I probably should also have included mental health funding and the primary care in the list of services being restricted too.
Lyn Latta said…
How on earth was the DHB expected to catch up after the Micheal Swan incident?? He stole millions from the DHB & not much of it was recovered? The Govt haven't considered that Southern DHB was behind the 8-ball because of this & no contribution from them to assist was forthcoming. The huge deficit is a partly a result of this. Set up to fail really.
bsprout said…
I'm sure that didn't help, Lyn, but the population based funding hasn't helped either.

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