Another southern health service may be outsourced, and
medical unions say the health board should have foreseen the
situation last year, when it decided to stop providing a
Instead, the Southern District Health Board was embarking on
a process that felt ''last minute'' and rushed, Resident
Doctors' Association and Association of Professionals and
Executive Employees national secretary Deborah Powell said.
Dr Powell said diagnostic mammography was now an ''even
smaller service'' because the board is giving up its national
breast-screening contract for Otago and Southland.
Dr Powell believed the service would be outsourced, although
no details had been confirmed.
Urgent preliminary meetings were called this week to discuss
the service. ''It's rushed, it is last-minute, it makes
everyone feel it's a fait accompli; why bother
[consulting]?''Southern needs to take a good hard look at
itself in terms of how it's engaging with staff.
''It's so last-minute the decision's probably inevitable.''
Dr Powell said the board should have looked at the screening
and diagnostic services together last year when it needed to
make a decision about the screening contract.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive
director Ian Powell agreed the two services should have been
considered in tandem.
''My understanding is that management did not understand
this. As surprising as that would seem, that highlights their
level of lack of knowledge.''
This month, the Ministry of Health announced Pacific
Radiology Group would be the provider of breast-screening in
the South from the middle of this year.
The board blamed a lack of radiologists for its decision to
relinquish the contract. Patient services director Lexie
O'Shea said in a statement the board was consulting staff
about the service, and one option was to ''partially
outsource some functions''.
Mrs O'Shea said it was not possible for the board to consult
on the two services in tandem, because diagnostic breast-care
was a more complex service, with links to other health board
''This has therefore taken substantially more time to
identify the necessary requirements to be provided within a
diagnostic breast-care service in the future and the ongoing
relationships that are necessary with other clinical
The timing was also co-ordinated to minimise disruption
associated with the transition to the new breast-screening