Call for 'open' answer

Jo Millar
Jo Millar
Grey Power wants an ''open honest answer'' from the Southern District Health Board about why it ''wiped out'' a trusted local provider of home support for older people, Grey Power Otago president Jo Millar says.

The health board had not explained why Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) was ''inferior'' to the other tenderers, including Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand (RDNSNZ).

RDNSNZ is one of three providers chosen by the board in a rationalisation of the service, but, unlike Access and Healthcare New Zealand, is new to the South.

Mrs Millar will attend tomorrow's board meeting in Dunedin at Wakari Hospital at 10am, at which PSO will urge the health board to rethink its decision. PSO has said it plans to lodge an interim legal injunction if unsuccessful.

Mrs Millar said she was also seeking a speaking slot to tell board members of her concerns, including a perception of a lack of transparency. Strong feelings were expressed at a recent Otago-Southland Grey Power meeting, she said, where representatives felt a good provider was ''wiped out'' without explanation or warning.

The board should release all documents relevant to the decision, and individual board members should explain how they voted, she said.

Mrs Millar said the health board assumed carers would transfer from one employer to another, but this was not guaranteed, and clients faced uncertainty. If elderly people had to have a new carer, it took time to build trust with a different person, she said. As a local organisation PSO, along with regional partner Disabilities Resource Centre Southland, knew the ''pitfalls and different scenarios'' of service provision in the South, which included catering to a sparsely populated area. Any surplus money from home support must stay in the region, preferably to be used for training and incentives for care support workers, she said.

Board chairman Joe Butterfield refused to respond to Mrs Millar's comments when contacted yesterday.

Last week the Otago Daily Times was contacted by RDNSNZ's parent organisation in Australia, after seeking comment from the Auckland-based company. RDNS brand and communications general manager Dan Woods, in an email from Melbourne, said surplus revenue from New Zealand services stayed in New Zealand, where it was directed to ''operations and service provision''. The not-for-profit organisation had a 127-year history in Australia.

''RDNSNZ has been delivering client-centred, goal-oriented and strengths-based care in the Auckland region since 2009 and is pleased to be able to offer this new approach to people living in the Southern District Health Board area.

''As a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on quality and accountability, RDNSNZ is dedicated to meeting the needs of clients and communities, helping people to live more independent and fulfilling lives,'' the email said.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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