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Last week, the SDHB said it could no longer release commissioner Kathy Grant’s official correspondence unless the Otago Daily Times stated "specifically" which letters it is after.
Previously, the board agreed to a general release of top-level inward and outward correspondence, subject to redactions to protect individual privacy.
The ODT has made similar requests for several years. The DHB’s response last week, prompted by a fresh request for the correspondence, was the same day the newspaper reported on two letters received by Mrs Grant that highlight concerns about specific services. One of the stories revealed the board was formally notified of midwives’ safety concerns about maternity transfers from Queenstown and Central Otago. The broader release last month included:
● A letter from an orthopaedic surgeon raising concern about lack of capacity in emergency surgery at Dunedin Hospital on weekends.
● A letter from 15 clinical leaders complaining about lack of engagement over the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.
● A letter proposing a joint venture for a public-private hospital development in Queenstown.
In its formal response on Friday, the board said it could no longer furnish all such correspondence. The ODT has told the board it is willing in this instance to limit the request to inward correspondence. The ODT has also complained to the Office of the Ombudsman about the board’s response.