Presbyterian Support Otago is seeking legal advice to
challenge the Southern District Health Board's decision to dump
the organisation as a home support provider, the organisation's
chief executive says.
The health board yesterday confirmed it would partner with
Healthcare of New Zealand, Access Homehealth and Royal
District Nursing Service New Zealand to introduce a new model
of care for providing home and community support services
across the Southern district.
It was also announced Presbyterian Support Otago staff would
be transferred to one of the new providers.
The decision has shocked Presbyterian Support, which has
vowed to fight.
Chief executive Gillian Bremner said their tender was not
declined on financial grounds, and the reasons for not
getting a contract were vague.
The organisation was now getting a legal opinion on ''the
merit of a legal challenge to the decision'', she said.
Presbyterian Support Otago board chairman Frazer Barton said
the organisation would be like ''a dog with a bone''.
''How can we sit back and let this happen to our clients,
staff and indeed, the community, without fighting the
seemingly inexplicable decision?''We must challenge why we
were unsuccessful, why our high level of service to
vulnerable people was rejected, why we are now required to
transition our experienced and qualified staff to three
providers with far less local footprint than we have.
''There are far too many unanswered questions to let this
bone go without a fight.''
Mrs Bremner said the organisation was also looking at the
involvement of Prof Matthew Parsons, of the University of
Auckland School of Nursing, whom she said worked for one of
the chosen agencies one day a week.
''He has been a consultant to the DHB throughout this process
in the design of the service model. We want to know how the
DHB managed this conflict of interest.''
However, Prof Parsons last night said he had no involvement
in the SDHB's selection process or involvement in supporting
providers who won contracts.
He also denied working one day a week with any of the
''The only involvement the university has had has been around
the development of the new model, as it has done with a
number of health boards around the country.''
Southern District Health Board finance and funding executive
director Robert Mackway-Jones yesterday said the board had a
robust process which included disclosure of any conflicts.
Mrs Bremner said that from the outset of the tender process
the SDHB had said it would consider between two and four
It chose three.
''We want to be that fourth provider. It would also mean our
clients and staff will suffer the least amount of disruption
to their lives as possible as the SDHB works through the new
Presbyterian Support Otago would hold as many meetings as it
would take to get a resolution, Mrs Bremner said.
The first meeting would be held with the SDHB chief executive
today, she said.
Mr Mackway-Jones said the ''preferred providers'' all had
significant experience in working with the new model in other
parts of New Zealand, and the DHB was confident it offered
high quality services.
''This process has been about improving services and, most
importantly, the new model of care will mean much greater
flexibility so that services can be better tailored to help
individual clients and their whanau achieve their goals.''
Registered health professionals would lead the service, with
increased training for support workers, to make it more
equitable and consistent across the district, better
co-ordinated with other health care providers, and faster and
easier for clients to access, he said.
Affected PSO staff would be transferred to a new provider, in
line with the DHB's tender requirements and protection
provided by employment relations legislation.
The DHB had been working to ensure all clients and staff were
informed of the changes, and supported through the
transition, he said.
Meetings would be held for clients, families and community
groups to learn more about the new providers and the new
model of care.
The changes would start in March next year, he said.
''At that time, we will begin a three-month transition
process when some clients will transfer to a new provider.''