Heatly defends senior managers

Carole Heatly.
Carole Heatly.
Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly has hit back at claims senior managers were misleading about the reason for dropping the contract for breast-screening.

The board has said Counties Manukau District Health Board would cease providing clinical support in the middle of this year that enabled the southern board to provide the Otago-Southland breast-screening programme.

In an opinion piece published in Friday's Otago Daily Times, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said this was wrong.

He said a report in a medical magazine last year revealed Counties Manukau was willing to continue providing second reads of images, and had offered additional support.

Mr Powell believed Ms Heatly and board members were misled by management.

Denying that in a statement yesterday, Ms Heatly said senior managers were ''open and transparent'' about the issue.

''Counties Manukau wrote to Southern DHB on July 9 last year and stated that they would continue to provide ongoing operational support until July 2014, when their contract with Southern DHB ended. This is what was communicated to our board.

''Where people seem to be confused is that there was an offer of ongoing collegial support from Counties Manukau. This was around assistance with mentoring and reviews, not continued operational support in providing second and third reads.

''Senior clinical and management staff have found these recent comments distressing and I stand by my staff and the advice that they have given,'' she said.

The board wanted Counties Manukau to take more responsibility for the programme, including employing the breast-screening radiologists.

This was declined by the Auckland-based board, in the July 9 letter, which Ms Heatly sent to the ODT yesterday.

It had earlier been released under the Official Information Act to the newspaper, which last year reported Counties Manukau's refusal to employ the radiologists, which its board deemed unsafe.

The letter refers to service support to be provided until July 2014, and an offer of ''collegial support'' past that date.

The new provider of southern breast-screening, Pacific Radiology Group, takes over later this year.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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