Fertility service decision next week

After months of delay, the Southern District Health Board will announce next week whether it will outsource its fertility service.

A proposal released in April said the service was too vulnerable to continue in-house, a claim Otago Fertility Service (OFS) staff strongly disputed. A staff submission said the proposal cited misleading financial figures, which misrepresented the situation. They feared a private operator would not provide the service in the South, and patients would have to leave the region for treatment, despite assurances from the board to the contrary.

The board put the proposal on hold to work with OFS clinical director Prof Wayne Gillett to address some of the discrepancies between the views of staff and management.

Yesterday, Prof Gillett said he did not know what had been decided, or what managers recommended to members.

Prof Gillett said it was essential the full service stayed in Dunedin, in part because of the relationship with the University of Otago.

''Any outsourcing would be a risk to the university, and the future of the university,'' he said.

The matter was decided by the board at its meeting in Dunedin last week, behind closed doors, and members contacted declined to comment.

Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie Morton said, when contacted, while it had been a long wait for staff to learn their fate, the union was pleased the board had extended the time frame to consider the issues raised by staff.

Yesterday the board initially said staff and unions would be told on Tuesday, but then contacted the Otago Daily Times to say it would be later in the week.

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