Costing details withheld

The Auckland-based entity driving the privatisation of southern hospital kitchens refuses to release information about purported savings, citing commercial sensitivity.

Announcing its decision to privatise the kitchens, the Southern District Health Board claimed it would save $870,000 in the first year alone.

Asked for more information on claimed savings, the health board told the Otago Daily Times to ask Health Benefits Ltd, in Auckland.

HBL yesterday said the figures were commercially sensitive. Multinational company the Compass Group is the preferred provider, with health boards deciding whether to join the service.

The ODT requested figures showing both savings and implementation costs for three years.

''The Southern DHB board determined that the year by year implementation costs and benefits are commercially sensitive. They were discussed in committee for this reason. I regret to advise you that HBL will not be releasing this information,'' HBL spokesman Steve Fisher said in an email yesterday.

Asked whether HBL had considered the matter under the Official Information Act, as it is obliged to with all information requests, Mr Fisher said it would do so, then furnish a ''formal response''.

Job losses are expected in the South if privatisation goes ahead.

The board has decided in principle to go ahead, but wants more information on the benefits before signing a contract.

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