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In yet more reorganisation at the deficit-ridden board, finance and funding executive director Robert Mackway-Jones's role is changing to cover only planning and funding.
Appointing a dedicated finance chief would ensure the board stayed "on track with our deficit", chief executive Carole Heatly said in an email yesterday.
"The cost of the new position will have a very small effect on the costs of the executive team when compared to the transformational savings programme we have embarked on," she said in the email.
The cost reducing "transformation programme", assisted by business services company PricewaterhouseCoopers, was making progress, she said.
The changes freed Mr Mackway-Jones for important health service planning, such as the major reconfiguration of services under way at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown.
The top-level finance role was advertised in the Otago Daily Times on Saturday.
Finance merged with planning and funding in May, 2010, in the wake of the merger of the Otago and Southland boards.
This year the executive team was restructured, in June, initially reducing the team from 13 to 11. Two subsequent changes, including re-introducing a stand-alone finance role, returns it to 13. Ms Heatly said yesterday the executive restructuring was "never about reducing its size".
Asked if Mr Mackway-Jones would face changes to his pay, she said she would not discuss staff salaries, but hinted he would not, because "the new planning and funding position is not a diminished role and takes on new areas of responsibility".
Depending how long recruitment took, the new regime would probably not be in place until early next year, she said.
The board's unconfirmed 2011-12 deficit is $13.2 million.
Health Minister Tony Ryall is yet to sign off the board's 2012-13 annual plan, a big part of which is details of spending the board is allowed.
The Southern board is one of only three boards yet to have its annual plan approved by Mr Ryall, his office confirmed yesterday.
The other two are Canterbury, and Capital and Coast.
The minister has signed off the annual plan of the remaining 17 boards for 2012-13.
Asked if he was happy with Southern's progress, Mr Ryall said through a spokeswoman he expected to receive a draft plan "shortly".
Southern was working closely with the Ministry of Health, and business services company PricewaterhouseCoopers, on ways to "improve their financial position", Mr Ryall said.