Commissioner for SDHB?

The Southern District Health Board may be replaced by a Commissioner:

The board has until Thursday to respond to Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman’s proposal to consider appointing a commissioner under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, it was revealed yesterday.

A commissioner would have the powers and functions of the board, except for procedural aspects relating to meetings, a letter from Dr Coleman to chairman Joe Butterfield says.

”Based on the board’s previous history of failure to deliver on its annual plan expectations, I do not have confidence that the current governance arrangements are suitable for overseeing the strategic plan or delivering on the changes required in Southern DHB,” he wrote. . .

The SDHB might not like this but the boards of the smaller hospitals it funds will be relieved.

The proposed action follows months of uncertainty after Dr Coleman confirmed in February he wanted to replace Mr Butterfield with a new chairman, but no appointment was made.

In the meantime, proposed cuts to head off a projected $42million deficit in 2015-16 met opposition and put pressure on Dr Coleman and local National MPs.

About 1700 people attended meetings in Central Otago last month to protest against possible reductions to Dunstan Hospital services.

George Berry, chair of Waitaki District Health Services said the proposed cuts would result in a serious downgrade of Oamaru Hospital.

The cuts to funding of Oamaru, Dunstan, Balclutha and Gore hospitals would be serious for them and make only a small difference to the SDHB’s deficit.

They’d also add to costs in Dunedin Hospital when patients unable to be treated locally were transferred to the city.

I was deputy chair of WDHS from its formation in 1998 until 2005.

It and the boards of the other rural hospitals have had an on-going struggle to get their fair share of funds and the financial situation of the SDHB has deteriorated.

Sacking the board and replacing it with a commissioner is a serious step but one which must be taken for the security of health services in the south.










7 Responses to Commissioner for SDHB?

  1. Do you think the commissioner is linked to the extra funding the Govt is providing to health boards to relieve cost pressures?


  2. homepaddock says:

    No, it’s the board’s inability to deal with on-going and growing deficits.


  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    Why did the CEO of the Southern District Health Board get an almost 25% increase in pay (at least $100,000 more) if the performance was so bad?

    It seems as though any organisation that can’t keep within arbitrary an restrictive budgets are closed down (Relationships Aotearoa) or have commissioners appointed.


  4. Paranormal says:

    It’s called living within your means DK. Unfortunately not everyone has the benefit of being able to print money like the Greens.


  5. Dave Kennedy says:

    ParanormaI, in real terms there has been a reduction in funding when regards demographic changes (aging population) and increased costs and inflation.

    In the case of Relationships Aotearoa, they were trapped into contracts that couldn’t be delivered on the funding provided (the organisation was delivering services well below the costs that the Government had been providing them).

    The expectation that the same services can be provided under a sinking lid funding system is nonsensical (while our Government CEOs get paid more and more).

    I would feel much more comfortable if the same approach to cutting support for core services was also applied to the likes of Solid Energy (how long can it be propped up?) and giving tax cuts to the oil industry.

    What are the core responsibilities for our Government, corporate welfare or health and education?–report

    Ele, which services would you cut first to keep within unrealisitic budgets and crazy targets that force DHBs to hide the reality:


  6. Paranormal says:

    DK, the post is about SDHB. But you continue to misrepresent issues.

    Why was RA funding cut? Could it have been something to do with sending couples to mediation instead so there was less work RA had to do. And RA were not blameless bystanders with the board stepping beyond their mandate. JC highlighted some of the issues previously.

    But hey, the facts don’t fit with your meme do they so lets just ignore them.


  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    This is a letter that I have sent to the Southland Times:

    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.


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