Get advice here: union

Ian Powell
Ian Powell
The Southern District Health Board did not need advice from an American-based firm, as there is plenty of help available closer to home, the senior doctors' union says.

The Otago Daily Times reported yesterday the board spent nearly $1.3 million on consultants in 2012-13, among which more than $81,000 was shelled out for the services of The Advisory Board Company, of the United States.

The board told the ODT it needed to ''stay current in an international world''. It continued to ''subscribe'' to the American-based firm's network, but further detail on the spending entailed was unavailable.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said the board was looking in the wrong places for answers.

''One has to ask why the DHB is looking outwards for advice, when it should be drawing on the clinical and operational expertise available within its own organisation,'' Mr Powell said.

''Senior doctors and other clinical staff are used to solving problems every day, and could contribute much of value if resourced to engage.

''They are certainly more in touch with the needs of patients in their communities, and the realities of providing health care for Southern DHB, than an American consulting firm.''

If it needed external comparisons, the board could access plenty of information from Australian and New Zealand public hospitals, he said. The spending came to light as the board continued to grapple with leaks affecting the surgical theatre suite at Dunedin Hospital, Mr Powell said.

''There are probably a few other things the DHB could be spending $1.3 million on.

''It's about getting the best value for money for the DHB's patients and the people working there, and I'm not convinced that throwing handfuls of cash at outside experts is going to achieve that.''



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