A union wanting to know why the Southern District Health
Board is trying to opt out of its breast-screening contract
says it finally got hold of a crucial letter, but it was so
heavily censored it was ''meaningless''.
Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie
Morton said only two paragraphs were not blanked out in the
letter in which Counties Manukau District Health Board
advised it was withdrawing support for the southern service
The Southern DHB is consulting staff on a proposal to let the
National Screening Unit contract lapse in the middle of next
year, meaning the service is likely to fall into private
Counties Manukau provided external screen readings and peer
support because the southern service did not have enough
Submissions closed on Monday, the board having extended the
consultation period by a week because of concerns the initial
fortnight was too short.
Mrs Morton had been trying to get the letter from the start
of the consultation period, and received it in the middle of
last week. The board told her the blanked-out paragraphs were
Mrs Morton said she could not make sense of the letter
without more information, raising questions about what the
DHB might be trying to hide.
''What is in that letter that they don't want me to see?''The
surviving paragraphs stated Counties Manukau would continue
providing support up to the cut-off date at the end of June,
which was already known.
Mrs Morton said the July 9 date of the letter proved the
board sat on the information for more than two months,
without telling even the most senior clinical staff member.
Asked about the blanked-out paragraphs, patient services
director Lexie O'Shea said by email: ''The letter confirms
the discussion we had with the PSA in relation to
Counties-Manukau inability to support our breast-screening
service post June 2014, it also confirms the date the letter
Asked to cite the relevant sections of the Official
Information Act under which it could withhold the
information, a board spokesman said the DHB thought it had
given the union what it had sought.
Because of the extra week for submissions, the final decision
had been delayed by a week, to October 15.