You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The Southern District Health Board has been left red-faced after having to withdraw a paper due to be considered on Monday which set out details of changes to radiology services in rural hospitals.
The paper, which was to be debated by the board’s community and public health advisory committee, said the SDHB had started a radiology project in September last year, "to ensure that there will be no interruptions to rural hospital radiology services after PRG exits services from Gore Health and Clutha Health First on 30 June 2021".
This came as surprising and alarming news for Pacific Radiology Group (PRG) , the firm which now provides the service and which thought it was in the middle of negotiating a new contract.
Pacific Radiology yesterday said it had no plans to terminate its 20-year-long arrangement to provide scanning services in those hospitals.
"We are certainly not pulling out," Otago Southland regional manager Paul Morrison said.
He could not comment extensively as contract negotiations were commercially sensitive, but Mr Morrison agreed that the SDHB agenda item read as if the firm terminating services "was a done deal".
"The contract does come up on June 30, but we are in the process of renegotiating, we are still available to provide our service," Mr Morrison said.
Asked for further comment, an SDHB spokeswoman said the paper had now been withdrawn from the agenda.
"There was still work to be done regarding the paper so it was not ready for public discussion."
PRG, New Zealand’s largest non-government medical organisation, has 50 branches across the country.
Mr Morrison said PRG had a decades-long relationship with Gore Health and Clutha Health First and its intended that relationship should continue.
The board paper said the radiology project was on track to meet its commencement deadline of July 1.
It envisaged all equipment being owned by rural hospitals and all staff being employed by them, the SDHB’s allied health team offering professional support, and teleradiology service I TeleRAD providing radiology reading and reporting.
"Pacific Radiology have indicated that they will support a smooth transition with a possible option for these respective hospitals to purchase PRG’s equipment that is currently on each site," the report to the committee said.
"Following PRG communication to their staff, Gore and CHF will approach affected staff to begin negotiating their transition into the respective organisations."