In a case of spending money to save it, Southern District
Health Board is shelling out thousands of dollars to a
business services company.
This week the board confirmed it paid PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PWC) $25,000 over about eight weeks to the end of August -
the actual bill will be higher because the firm will assist
until about the end of the year.
PWC was called in when the board discovered an unexpected
cost overrun near the end of the 2011-12 financial year.
Managers did not respond to requests for an updated figure.
Board member Tim Ward, who is chairman of the audit and risk
committee, acknowledged the total bill would be higher,
because PWC's work was ongoing.
PWC was helping in two areas - finding savings, and improving
the quality of reports to the board from managers. Its work
on reporting was nearly finished, but on cost savings it
would assist until about the end of December, Mr Ward said.
He agreed it was a case of spending money to find savings,
and to reassure the board it was not out of kilter with other
PWC's findings thus far had surprised no-one, Mr Ward said.
The company identified no "silver bullet that's going to fix
However, it was helping to identify potential savings and
efficiencies in a number of areas.
PWC provided an external view which was obviously not
possible from inside the organisation.
Mr Ward rejected a suggestion that September 2010 job losses
in the finance and planning and funding departments meant the
board had to outsource such work.
About 6.5 full-time jobs were lost in the restructuring.
However, he acknowledged the role of finance and funding
executive director, created in May, 2010, when two roles
merged, was too big.
Further restructuring under way would provide more support.
"It's accepted that it's more than a single person's role."
The board is awaiting acceptance from auditors of a $13.2
million 2011-12 deficit.