Chairman's travel expenses $38,914

Joe Butterfield
Joe Butterfield
Southern District Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield incurred $38,914 in travel expenses in the 18 months from July 2011 to December 2012.

Released under the Official Information Act, the expenses comprised $22,958 for mileage and $15,956 for flights, taxis and car rentals.

Also, $3029 was spent on meals, which included meals for board members.

Mr Butterfield is reimbursed for mileage at the Inland Revenue Department's recommended rate, which is 77c per km.

Appointed by Health Minister Tony Ryall in November 2010, Mr Butterfield is based in Timaru.

Audit and risk committee chairman Tim Ward said the costs reflected Mr Butterfield's dedication to advancing the DHB's ''current transformation process''.

''This includes attending board and committee meetings, meeting with the chief executive, executives and clinical leaders, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Health Board.

''Mr Butterfield also attends South Island and national chairs' meetings, South Island alliance meetings, South Island neurosurgery meetings and meetings with the Minister of Health.

''Much of the cost reflects the expense involved in travelling from Timaru to meetings throughout the southern region, as well as those in Christchurch and Wellington.''

Mr Butterfield's expense claims did not include accommodation, because this was booked through the DHB, a spokesman said.

For his role as chairman, Mr Butterfield received $51,000 in 2011-12, and $30,000 in 2010-11.

The board also released Crown monitor Stuart McLauchlan's expenses for the same 18-month period, which totalled $407, including accommodation.

Mr McLauchlan has been charged with monitoring the board's progress in reaching financial health since the Otago and Southland 2010 merger, for which he is paid $35,000 a year. Previously, he was Crown monitor of the then Southland District Health Board.

The board yesterday refused to disclose further details of a $137,000 termination and personal grievance of an employee mentioned in its 2012 annual report, citing privacy concerns.

Hidden cost

What were the costs to the SDHB in external legal advice to defend claims related to the Personal Grievance/termination payouts?

The SDHB regularly claims "privacy" issues as a reason to not answer questions. The "privacy" reason, in most cases, has no factual foundation for use as a reason not to disclose information, it's merely used as a statement of convenience.

The 'hidden' costs need to be exposed as they are in fact real costs that take away money for clinical service provision.

 

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