The Southern District Health Board has more than doubled
its spending on communications and public relations in the past
The board spent $348,663 last year, compared with $156,449 in
2011, figures released yesterday under the Official
Information Act show. Chief executive Carole Heatly said the
extra money had improved the quality of the board's
communication activities. The board was now speaking
consistently and clearly to the public and its staff. Those
efforts had been bearing fruit, Ms Heatly said, with public
health indicators such as vaccinations in the increase, and
much greater engagement with staff.
The board will claw back more than $13,000 of last year's
spending from a contract it picked up for South Island
Alliance health communications, for which invoicing began in
November, the released data indicates.
The figures include wages. Before hiring Steve Addison as
executive director of communications in late 2011, the board
had a single communications officer covering Otago and
Southland. Now, Mr Addison manages a team of two, which will
soon increase to four.
The board plans to hire another staff member in Dunedin,
and a part-time worker in the Central Otago/Lakes district, to
join communications staff in Invercargill and Dunedin.
The Invercargill staff member now focused mainly on South
Yesterday, Mr Addison was hosting an Australian health
communications executive, here to learn about what the board
has been doing.
Andrew Williamson is public affairs and communication
executive director for Melbourne's Southern Health, which
covers a population of more than a million people, and has
With six major hospitals, it is Victoria's largest health
Mr Williamson was keen to learn more about how the board
related to staff, patients, and the public.
Mr Addison said he was also learning from the visit, as
Mr Williamson's organisation had more shared publicity with its
aligned university than the board had with the University of
Mr Addison said he mostly had a ''blank canvas'' for
communications when he started, which was unusual.