SDHB rapped over non-disclosures

Kathy Grant.
Kathy Grant.
Audit New Zealand has told the Southern District Health Board to sharpen up its act on financial  disclosures after finding some interests had not been declared.

Commissioner Kathy Grant made new declarations after the issue was raised by auditors, she confirmed to the Otago Daily Times. Mrs Grant had not realised  they had to be declared.

"The interests that they required to be disclosed are those in which I particularly hold a directorship in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of a client.

"So these are companies in which I have no personal interest whatsoever."

The entities (which are not named in the auditors’ report) include Food Safety Specialists Ltd (co-trustee), Warrington Estates Ltd (director), Tall Poppy Ideas Ltd (co-trustee), and Rangiora Lineside Ltd (co-trustee). In its 2015-16 audit, Audit New Zealand recommended the DHB implement regular checks of the New Zealand companies office register to check for non-disclosures.

"Whilst our audit work confirmed the non-declarations had no impact to the related parties transaction disclosure in the financial statements, we would like to remind the DHB that related parties is an area of interest from a probity perspective.

"By not declaring all interests, particularly the pecuniary interests, exposes the DHB to an increase in conflict of interest risk and potential for reputational damage," the audit report said.

Mrs Grant had previously disclosed many other interests, including those of husband Stephen Grant and her own directorships of Dunedin Venues Ltd, and Dunedin City Treasury Ltd. Mrs Grant is a consultant at Dunedin law firm Gallaway Cook Allan and Mr Grant is a partner at the firm.

The auditors were also disappointed at a lack of progress in other areas. There were  no up-to-date disaster recovery plans, a shortcoming  identified previously.

"Given the high reliance of the DHB on information technology to support the attainment of strategic objectives and the delivery of health services, continuity of operations is a significant business risk.

"We also wish to highlight that there has not been significant progress on most of the issues we have raised in the past years."

Mrs Grant told the ODT  disaster recovery had been "to the forefront of our attention as we gather more information as to the state of the clinical services building."

An assessment of the  building last year said it was at risk of abrupt clinical failure.

The auditors said the DHB’s "key challenge" was maintaining sustainable services while trying to improve its financial position.

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