Protesters file out from the grounds of First Church to
start their procession to the Octagon. Photo by Gerard
The Southern District Health Board has not adequately
explained its decision to dump Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO)
as a home-based support provider, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran
told a protest in Dunedin yesterday.
About 200 people - many of them caregivers - turned out to
oppose the health board's decision to drop PSO and its
regional partner, Disabilities Resource Centre Southland.
A petition calling for the board to reconsider has gathered
more than 4000 signatures.
Starting at First Church, the marchers' procession to the
Octagon was heralded by a bagpiper.
Ms Curran told the rally she met health board managers on
Wednesday, and emerged with unanswered questions. The
decision appeared to lack transparency, she said.
Union representatives Ann Galloway (Service and Food Workers
Union) and Cee Payne (New Zealand Nurses Organisation) both
told the rally PSO was a better employer than many others
they had dealt with in the aged care sector. Workers'
advocate Mike Hanifin said PSO staff did not want to see
their organisation's work of more than 100 years disregarded
by the health board. More action was planned, he said.
PSO Family Works buddy co-ordinator Fiona Ross said her
programme faced cutbacks if her employer lost the $5.5
million annual home support contract. She believed the health
board should consider the wider effects of its decisions. The
buddy programme helped young people, which in turn made the
population healthier and less likely to need health services.
Contacted yesterday, health board chairman Joe Butterfield,
of Timaru, said he was confident the board followed the
correct process to pick its preferred providers.
Asked if he had received the PSO's letter asking to meet the
board, he said he had, but had not decided whether to grant
An Australian-owned organisation which has not provided
services outside Auckland is one of three chosen for the new
''restorative'' service, starting from March.