Elected SDHB back at next local govt poll

Local body elections next year will see the return of an elected Southern District Health Board.

The SDHB has been governed by commissioners since June 2015, when concerns about the board’s ballooning debts resulted in them being installed by then health minister Jonathan Coleman.

Dr Coleman followed up at the end of 2015 with an Act which exempted the SDHB from 2016’s local body elections.

The Act was specifically only for the 2016 election, and was necessary as a commissioner could only hold that position until board members came into office following the next DHB election.

There has been speculation new health minister David Clark might opt to maintain  commissioners at the SDHB.

However, a ministry spokesman  said Dr Clark had always intended for the 2019 election to go ahead.

When commissioners were installed, the SDHB’s deficit was forecast to exceed $42 million that financial year, and plans were still being discussed for redevelopment of Dunedin Hospital.

Now, plans for a new Dunedin Hospital are under way, but deficits will remain a concern for a newly-elected SDHB.The Ministry of Health’s DHB sector financial report page — usually updated monthly — has not had any new information posted on it since June.

Then, the ministry reported the SDHB had recorded a $21.3 million deficit, $7.4 million unfavourable to budget.

The SDHB said that factors such as a higher volume of patients, increased outsourcing of clinical services, the cost of the water contamination crisis in August 2017 and increased hospital pharmaceuticals and blood costs had contributed to that financial result.

The Government allocated $100 million towards DHB deficit reduction in May’s Budget.

In 2013 13 candidates stood for the SDHB’s Otago constituency, of whom Richard Thomson, John Chambers, Mary Gamble and Branko Sijnja were elected.

Mr Thomson was named one of the deputy commissioners when they were appointed, and now serves alongside commissioner Kathy Grant and deputy commissioner Graham Crombie.

In the Southland constituency  eight people stood, of whom Kaye Crowther, Neville Cook and Tim Ward were elected.

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