Disappointment has been expressed over the failure of the
Southern District Health Board to recruit radiologists, and
its consequent decision to relinquish the southern
breast-screening service from the middle of next year.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive
director Ian Powell said yesterday he was unsatisfied with
the recruitment efforts, blaming board management for failing
to secure two radiologists who had been keen on positions.
Board members and chief executive Carole Heatly had been
''let down'' by management, he said.
The board had a tendency to give up on services which faced
problems, rather than finding a solution. The decision to let
the contract go was disappointing, Mr Powell said.
PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said clerical
workers' jobs hung in the balance while they waited to find
out who would take over the service.
''There are a lot of unanswered questions in terms of whether
any new provider will want to take on existing staff and in
that regard, it's probably our members whose jobs are most at
The union was concerned the move increased the risk of
service problems, because screening would be separated from
''The consultation on this proposal has been far from ideal,
and we believe the DHB needs to start giving some clearer
answers to staff and to the women of Otago and Southland over
the future of breast screening services,'' Mr Wagstaff said.
Southern District Health Board member Kaye Crowther yesterday
said it was expected a new breast screening provider would
lease public breast-screening facilities in Dunedin and
Mrs Crowther said board members assumed a new provider would
utilise existing facilities, but it was for the successful
tenderer and the National Screening Unit to determine.
Yesterday, the Public Service Association (PSA) warned there
was no guarantee women would not have to travel to
Christchurch for screenings. However, a spokesman for the
National Screening Unit said screening mammography would be
provided in Otago and Southland as a condition of the
As well as fixed facilities in Dunedin and Invercargill, a
mobile unit is used in some outlying areas.
Mrs Crowther was not sure whether any breast-screening
radiologists would be based in the South under a new
provider, or whether all screen readings would take place
Mrs Crowther said the move was needed to ensure the safety of
BreastScreen South, owned by Pacific Radiology Group Ltd,
provides the national screening programme for the rest of the
Yesterday, its programme manager, Joan Miles, in
Christchurch, declined to comment on whether the company
would tender for the service.