The new provider of breast-screening in Otago and Southland
is confident it can recruit radiologists based in the South,
saying it prefers not to send images elsewhere to be read.
The Southern District Health Board cited a lack of
radiologists in its decision to give up the BreastScreen
Aotearoa contract. It has relied on radiologists as far away
as Auckland to keep the service running.
New provider Pacific Radiology Group takes over later this
Pacific chief executive Lance Lawler, of Wellington, said the
company was determined to ''solve'' the long-standing
Radiologists worked best as part of the local health service,
and not based remotely, Dr Lawler said.
He acknowledged it could take time to recruit screening
Asked why it would be successful where the board failed, Dr
Lawler said Pacific and its South Island provider,
BreastScreen South, were focused on one area of healthcare.
This enabled easier recruitment for specialist roles. A
health board had many different areas of responsibility.
The organisation was keen to offer employment to existing
staff, such as clerical workers, as soon as possible, but it
had to wait for the process to unfold. He understood this
involved negotiations between the health board and unions.
He could not commit to how many staff would keep their jobs,
saying Pacific did not yet have details of the make-up of the
There was no ''hidden agenda'' to run the service from
The company was negotiating with the board to use fixed
facilities in Invercargill and Dunedin.
The new service would not be in place until later this year.
A transitional period would start in the middle of the year.
The decision to drop screening has led the board to consider
whether a related service, diagnostic breast care, can stand
alone or might also need to be outsourced.
Dr Lawler said Pacific was focused on its new screening
service but it was possible it would tender for the
diagnostic work if it was outsourced.
Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie
Morton said workers were waiting to hear through the board
whether Pacific Radiology required them to re-apply, or
whether all of their jobs were safe.
''We haven't actually received anything of any substance that
tells us how those staff might transfer - or not.''
Last week, Southern District Health Board patient services
director Lexie O'Shea said the employment transfer process
would take about three months and started only about two
weeks ago, when the new provider was confirmed.
''Staff will be fully informed during this process,'' she
said in a statement.
The Otago Daily Times asked this week whether the
board needed to move the process forward, and how many staff
were involved, and received a one-line emailed response: ''We
are currently finalising the process and will continue to
communicate directly with the unions.''