Commissioner for SDHB

18/06/2015

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has appointed a commissioner to replace the Southern District Health Board.

The financial problems at Southern DHB are longstanding. I do not have confidence that the current governance arrangements are suitable for delivering on the changes required in Southern DHB,” says Dr Coleman.

“Southern is forecasting a final deficit of $27 million for the current financial year. That figure has effectively doubled in the last six months.

“The DHB has also forecast that its deficit position will further increase in 2015/16 to between $30 million and $42 million – this accounts for over half the combined deficit of all 20 DHBs. This situation of fluctuating forecasts and progressively worsening deficits cannot continue.

“The Government is committed to the redevelopment of Dunedin Hospital and the provision of high quality health services to all the people of the Southern region.

“All DHBs are funded according to the same population-based funding formula. This formula includes adjustments to recognise rural populations, age and other demographic issues.

“In a tight fiscal environment, all DHBs need to use available funding effectively. No other DHB has failed to control its finances in the way that Southern has.”

Kathy Grant has been appointed Commissioner and takes up the role on 18 June 2015. After discussions with Mrs Grant, she has indicated that she intends to appoint Graham Crombie and Richard Thomson as deputies. A third deputy with a strong clinical background will be appointed by the end of the month.

“Mrs Grant is from Otago and brings significant local knowledge. She has significant business and governance experience and a proven track record in turning around struggling organisations,” says Dr Coleman.

“The team will bring together a mix of strong financial, governance and clinical skills.

“I would like to thank the Board members for their work to date. My decision is not intended to devalue their efforts and achievements. However, a new approach is now necessary.

“My decision is based on the need for a new approach to the DHB’s longstanding financial issues, and to help move the DHB to a more sustainable position over time.”

This is a good move by the minister and the commissioner has made a very good start in the appointment of her deputies:

Kathy Grant bio
Kathy Grant was born in Otago and has spent most of her life in the region.

Mrs Grant currently works as a consultant in the legal practice of Gallaway Cook Allan in Dunedin. She has significant governance experience. Mrs Grant holds several current directorships including Chair of the Otago Polytechnic Council (appointed 2010), a trustee of Sport Otago (appointed 2007), and a director of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (appointed 2012), Dunedin City Treasury Ltd (appointed 2013), and Dunedin International Airport Ltd (appointed 2008). She was also a member of the Anglican Family Care Board (2009-2013).

Mrs Grant has been on the Board of Trustees for several schools and colleges, and a previous member of the University of Otago Council (2007-2010). She was also previously Chair of the Dunedin College of Education Council (2001-2006).

Graham Crombie bio
Graham Crombie is a Dunedin local. He attended Bayfield High School and Otago University. Mr Crombie has a strong background in accountancy, with a proven record in high level assessments of the sustainability of health organisations. He was President of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (2008) and went on to become chair of the organisation (2009-2014).

Mr Crombie also has lengthy governance experience. He is currently chair of Dunedin City Holdings (appointed 2012), Dunedin City Treasury (appointed 2013), Otago Museum Trust Board (appointed 2011), Dunedin Venues (appointed 2015) and director of Surf Life Saving NZ (appointed 2013). He was also the independent chair of South Link Health (1999-2009).

Richard Thomson bio
Richard Thomson was born in Invercargill and attended Otago University. After specialising as a Clinical Psychologist he took up a lecturer role at Otago Medical School. He is now a successful businessman.

Mr Thomson has key insights into Southern DHB. He was chair of Otago DHB (2001-2009) and became a Board member after Otago DHB merged with Southland DHB (2009-2015).

Mr Thomson is currently serving his second term on the Dunedin City Council.

They have a difficult job to do but it must be done to secure health services in the south.

All DHBs have population based funding which takes into account a variety of factors.

Advocates in the south have long-argued that the formula doesn’t take enough account of the costs of servicing a smaller population, which isn’t growing much and is older than the average, spread over a large area.

The ODT editorialises:

. . . The fairness of the opaque population-based funding model again has to be questioned. The South failed to attract the increases of other areas in recent times and for various reasons could be seriously disadvantaged.

If the appointment of a commissioner is the signal for a fresh start then everything should be on the table, including how funding is calculated with an analysis of its fairness. After all, the South has to cope with the largest geographic area, the extra costs for teaching and many – and usually more costly – older patients. . .

The commissioner and her deputies will have to make the formula work or prove the advocates right.

 


Hope he’s standing for right reasons

04/10/2010

When Otago District Health Board employee Michael Swann was found guilty of a $17m fraud, Health Minister Tony Ryall held board chair Richard Thomson responsible and sacked him.

Thomson was elected to the board, chose to stay on as a member and is a candidate in the current election for what is now the Southern District Health Board which was formed when the Otago and Southland DHB’s amalgamated.

I have no doubt he’ll get back on and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he tops the poll.

I just hope he’s standing because he can make a positive contribution to the board and health services in the south and not in a misguided attempt to give the fingers to the minister.


DHB fraud fallout highlights stupidity of Clayton’s democracy

17/02/2009

Otago District Health Board chairman Richard Thomson didn’t accept the invitation to jump so Health Minister Tony Ryall has pushed him

No-one is saying Thomson is responsible for the $17 million fraud for which former ODHB employee Michael Swann and his and business associate Kerry Harford were found gulty last year.

But Ryall is holding him accountable  and had he understood his role and responsibilities as chair he’d have resigned before he was sacked.

David Farrar Kiwiblog explains the requirement for accountability at Kiwiblog and in his NBR column.

The letters page of the ODT has had a lot of correspondence on the issue, some of those in support of Thomson point out he was elected to the board, not appointed.

That is irrelevant and just highlights the stupidity of the Clayton’s democracy surrounding DHB elections because, elected or appointed ,health boards and their members are accountable not to their communities but the Minister.

Because he’s elected, Thomson could choose to stay on as a board member now he’s been sacked as chair. But if he didn’t understand why, although he was neither to blame nor responsible for the fraud, he should still have been accountable for it; he’s shown he doesn’t understand the role of the board and to whom it’s answerable.


Sharing CEO sensible step

04/10/2008

The appointment of a single chief executive for the Otago and Southland DIstrict Health Boards is a very sensible step.

Brian Rousseau who was the Otago CEO and has been interim CEO for Southland since last year will take on the joint role which is a first for district health board management.

The chairmen of both boards say the appointment enhances the strong commitment to regional collaboration over services, but neither is suggesting the boards should amalgamate.

I think that would be a sensible aim. There would be economies of scale and it would be welcomed by the many people on the heath board borders who want to use Dunedin services but have to use Southland’s and vice versa.

Otago chair Richard Thomsom said:

The appointment did not change anything fundamentally for the boards, but would make it easier to further develop a regional focus on services.

“As Brian would say, it’s difficult to argue with yourself when you’re the CEO of both boards.”

The boards have two services in common, Southern Blood and Cancer and cardiac surgery, and several senior management staff work across both organisations.

Two of the boards’ advisory committees share membership.

Southland chairman Dennis Cairns said the boards faced the problem of catering for populations spread over a large area.

The average number of health service users over the country per square kilometre was 13.1, compared with 5.6 in Otago and 2.8 in Southland.

In an area such as Counties Manukau there could be one hospital catering for 250,000 people, but in Otago and Southland there were seven hospitals.

It’s always going to be more expensive to treat people scattered over a large area than if they’re concentrated in one place. A closer working relationship between Otago and Southland ought to ensure that less is spent on overheads leaving more for services.

The Southland Times’ report is here.


Yes Minister approach to funding

30/07/2008

Yes-Minister  approach to funding means Dunedin women are not getting treatment for post-natal depression.

Women with postnatal depression in Dunedin are missing out on support because a $140,000 service which should have gone ahead last September has not received Otago District Health Board funding, Plunket says.

Plunket Society operations manager for Otago-Southland Barb Long says lack of the service, which will proceed only in a limited way next year with private funding, is a huge gap in services.

She said the society, which had been identified by the board as the preferred provider for the service last July, was only advised in May that the board would not be funding it.

Board chairman Richard Thomson said while he understood Ms Long’s disappointment, it would have been irresponsible for the board to introduce services it could not fund in the long term.

He describes the board as being stuck in a “Yes, Minister” situation (a reference to a British television programme which highlighted the foibles of bureaucracy) where it may get money to start up a service but not be funded to sustain it.

This is not the only Yes-Minsiter aproach to funding in the region.

Oamaru Hospital bought a CT scanner last year but the ODHB which holds the contract for scans will not pass over payment for North Otago patients. This means North Otago patients who qualify for ACC are getting scans locally but other people have to travel to Dunedin Hospital for publicly funded scans or pay to have them in Oamaru.

This is a ridiculous situation when Oamaru has the equipment and the expertise to provide the service while Dunedin has a waiting list for scans and it is a three hour return journey from Oamaru to the city. 

If people require a scan funding shouldn’t be dependent on where they get it.


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