Food contract savings slashed

Estimated savings from the controversial hospital food contract have been slashed by up to $150million, NZ Health Partnerships has confirmed.

The Government entity now predicts savings of $30 million to $40 million over the 15-year contract.

The interim revised figure, which the Otago Daily Times has sought for several months, was released this week, but NZ Health Partnerships said it would release a formal statement next month confirming the figure.

Originally, it was hoped that savings of between $155 million and $190 million could be made if all 20 boards joined, but the programme proved controversial and unpopular with the public.

The revised savings need to be divvied between only six DHBs.

By volume, the participating DHBs, which include high-population Auckland areas, constitute 43% of the sector. Southern District Health Board's portion of savings is unknown, and yesterday the board refused to comment, saying it was in talks with Compass.

The southern board's initial portion was $7 million over 15 years.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the savings figure had been ''drastically'' revised, and that was ''pretty bad''.

''[And] logic would tell you that that $30 million or $40 million is probably inflated.''

Ms Curran called on Southern DHB to release its individual estimate.

''The people in the Southern District Health Board region deserve to know what that revised figure is.''

Last week, the ODT revealed that the contract with the Compass Group had to be renegotiated because so few boards had joined. NZ Health Partnerships still hopes to convince more boards to sign, in order to increase savings.

Implementation of the Compass contract at Southern DHB was particularly rocky, as the public and patients rejected the food, and Opposition political parties and unions focused their campaigning energy on the southern board and Dunedin Hospital, in particular.


What a great deal. Patients get served substandard meals for 15 years, Dunedin loses several jobs and we get a bunch more trucks on the roads delivering frozen stuff from Auckland to Dunedin.
In return SDHB get to maybe save $1.4 million over 15 years. That's theirpercentage based on the original savings goal. That only happens if you believe $30m is a real number. I certainly don't.

Incidentally, how many days / weeks of frozen meals are on hand in Dunedin to cater for delivery delays i.e. no ferries running on Cook Strait? Just how old are the meals being served up?

It is time for the assorted commissioners and consultants to say no to this deal. Start standing up for Dunedin, not government.

What is sad about all this is there were solid proposals submitted to the hospital board, prior to all this going down, about how at least $1,000,000/year could have been made, just from leaving the hospital kitchens running as they were and making a few small changes. Particularly as it was the only department that was consistently functioning under budget.



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