Disputed millions in limbo

A southern health row over millions of dollars has yet to be resolved, despite scrutiny from the Auditor-general's office.

In December, the Auditor-general's office said it expected the long-running dispute between Southern District Health Board and Dunedin-based independent practitioner association South Link Health to be resolved ''without further delay''.

It was a rare public statement about a row that has run under the radar for years.

In response, board chairman Joe Butterfield said he hoped the matter would be ''clarified'' in the new year. Contacted on Friday, he refused to comment.

South Link Health chairman Dr Dean Millar-Coote was also saying little, but confirmed there had been no resolution. He said the parties were still in talks.

A spokeswoman for the Auditor-general's office said it was ''keeping an eye on progress'' through audit processes, and referred further comment to the health board.

In December, the Auditor-general's office said it was advised about the dispute in October.

''We were told that there is a renewed focus on resolving the matter and that this will be done with some urgency,'' the office said at the time.

Dating from the 1990s, the figure has ballooned from $5.3 million to possibly about $15 million including interest.

It arose from disagreement about whether savings from contracts had to be returned.

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