Merging clinical departments at Southern District Health
Board "smacks of a takeover of Otago by Southland", a submitter
on the proposal told the board.
Under the Official Information Act, the board last week
released submissions on a major restructuring it is
implementing over the next few months.
The submitter fearing a Southland takeover pointed to the
considerable difference between Dunedin Hospital and
Southland Hospital, which had fewer services and beds.
Overarching managers and clinical leaders will head five
departments, and they are as likely to be based in
Invercargill as in Dunedin.
Submitters broadly agreed services in the board's two main
centres must be more aligned, but many feared the new
structure would not work.
The new set-up was similar to how Southland Hospital was run
at present, which did not take into account Dunedin
Hospital's relationship with the University of Otago, one
Comparing Dunedin and Invercargill's intensive care units,
another said Invercargill's had a much lower budget, no
dedicated intensive care doctors, and doubled as the cardiac
"To amalgamate these units under a single management system
is laudable, but will take either a lot of financial
investment, or an acceptance that models of care delivery
must be quite different between sites."
Citing the right of staff to speak freely, the board withheld
the names on submissions, despite the fact staff had clearly
stated whether they desired anonymity. This decision was
labelled "most odd" by the head of the senior doctors' union,
Ian Powell, who said staff should be allowed to choose
whether they wanted to be identified.
The Otago Daily Times has complained to the Office of the
Ombudsmen about the decision.
Last month announcing its proposed structure would go ahead,
the board said it would work to address submitters' concerns,
including those who feared additional travel posed a safety
As well as road safety, increased travel could lead to staff
burnout and could hurt family life, submitters said.
Many said the top roles were too big, and managers risked
being too remote from staff.
A new decision-making system putting clinician leaders on an
equal footing with managers concerned submitters, who feared
it was impractical.
Many criticised a reduction in top nurses, including the
removal of the deputy chief nursing role, which the New
Zealand Nurses Organisation criticised when the decision was
announced last month.