DHB Merger is Right Prescription

The merger of the Otago and Southland district health boards would benefit people in both regions according to Chris Fraser who leaves his post as the Otago board’s regional planning and fundign gneral manager at the end of the month.

Emphasising this was his personal opinion, Mr Fraser said having one board would benefit both populations, but particularly Southland. One regional board offering employment would be much more attractive than either board trying to recruit for its own area.

However, he said any move for a merger was unlikely to come from the Otago board, because that could be interpreted as a takeover, when the boards had been keen to be seen as equals.

Southland might feel threatened by a move from Otago but parochialism needs to give way to practicality. Population based funding is tough on regions with smaller populations spread over a large area so it makes sense for Otago and Southland to combine their resources and in the process reduce some costs. Health dollars are scarce, the fewer that go on the system the more there are for services.

Fraser said the Government imposing a merger on the boards would be unproductive and he may be right. But perhaps it could offer a sweetener as the Minsitry of Education has to encourage schools to merge.

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