SDHB chooses Australian provider

Kaye Crowther.
Kaye Crowther.
An Australian-owned, Auckland-based organisation has secured one of three contracts to provide home-based services for elderly people in the South.

The not-for-profit Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand will provide services in Otago-Southland from midway through next year.

This follows revelations in the Otago Daily Times yesterday that Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) had lost a Southern District Health Board (SDHB) contract worth $5.5 million. The board is due to formally announce the new provider tomorrow.

Yesterday, board member Kaye Crowther, when asked, confirmed Royal District Nursing Service was one of those selected. She refused to comment further, saying the matter was discussed in the public-excluded section of last week's disability support committee.

The organisation is registered as a New Zealand company, which is wholly owned by its Australian parent, according to the Companies Office website. Two of five directors are Australian-based.

When contacted, board chairwoman and director Anne Blackburn, of Auckland, directed inquiries to the health board.

The shake-up, described by PSO chief executive Gillian Bremner in yesterday's Otago Daily Times as a ''huge shock'', comes as the SDHB rationalises the service to fewer providers, and introduces a ''restorative'' model to increase client independence.

Mrs Bremner said yesterday it was unfortunate the board chose an outside provider over a ''tried and true'' local option.

While its parent was well established in Australia, home support was very different there, where it was more generously funded, Mrs Bremner said.

It appeared a ''particular ideology'' was driving tender processes, which favoured larger entities. This was changing the face of the home-based support sector nationwide, she said.

Disabilities Resource Centre Southland general manager Debbie Webster, whose organisation also missed out, said the southern board was the biggest in New Zealand by area, and much of it was rural. Providing the service required specialist knowledge and networks.

''I don't believe that [the Auckland-based company] would have those [networks].

''That sort of connection doesn't happen overnight. It's something that's established over years and years.''

Losing the contract put at risk the centre's hospital visit courtesy van, a service greatly valued in Southland as it helped people attend their hospital appointments.

It also benefited the health board, through helping people keep their appointments. In a joint press release, Dunedin Labour MPs Clare Curran and David Clark condemned the decision, saying PSO was a proven provider and should be retained.

Profit before people

And no understanding of Australian/ NZ health context. I have an in-depth understand of health provision in both countries and can, with confidence, state that the countries are poles apart. This has clearly been lost on the SDHB in its bid to put profits before people.

Exporting money

Someone please help me understand this.  Workers transfer from their present employer to the new one, but keep on with the same work doing the same home-based care for the same elderly people.  The change is that money paid for the service that used to stay "at home" in NZ - in Otago and Southland - now flies across the ditch.

This fits into the stated ambition of our government bring NZ up to Australia's prosperity level, right?

Have I missed something? 

Home support contracts

The ODT is doing the home support sector no favours by just calling it a service for the elderly. Home support is used by all ages and levels of society. Babies, school children, young adults whole families, and adults of any age are also supported within their homes for a variety of reasons.

Because the support is used so widely within our community it is even more important that the supplier has a good standing in the community and a proven quality of care.

It is not an easy thing to allow someone into your private life and PSO and DRC have that proven level of care and understanding of the Southern community.

I remain unconvinced that a supplier from Auckland or Australia could even FIND where half the clients live let alone provide the sensetive care they are entitled too. I will be encouraging people to boycott the new supplier - both staff and client base. 


Cheaper not always better

No doubt another sad example of money (direct and immediate cost) being used as the only or chief means of measuring worth.

After all, it would save an awful lot of money if the entire population of NZ just died immediately. 

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