Health contract process on hold

A Southern District Health Board mental health contract process is on hold after a union complained staff who might be out of a job were not properly consulted.

The health board is tendering mental health needs assessment and service co-ordination to a single provider - at present the service is a mix of health board and private providers.

The new service is to start next month. Tenders closed on May 12.

Public Service Association Dunedin organiser Julie Morton said seven DHB union members in Otago and Southland who could lose their jobs had not been consulted adequately.

Legally, clear reasons had to be given for such a major change, she said.

"They did not tell us what it is they are trying to achieve, so we could have given useful feedback."

No clear reason was given for out-sourcing the entire service, aside from citing a broad strategy of providing more convenient health care, Ms Morton said.

The PSA accepted it might be desirable to create a single service, but it was not clear why the DHB's own service could not be expanded, Ms Morton said.

Initial concerns were allayed by an assurance the DHB's own service would tender for the contract, but that did not happen, Ms Morton said.

This month Ms Morton wrote to the SDHB formally expressing concerns and asking for the process to be halted.

The mood of workers was "disappointed and cynical".

SDHB mental health and community services group manager Elaine Chisnall confirmed the DHB had put the tender process on hold temporarily.

The board was working with the PSA on its concerns, she said.

She declined to comment further.



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