Hodgson accepts Little’s criticism was deserved

Pete Hodgson. Photo: ODT files
Pete Hodgson. Photo: ODT files
Stinging criticism of Southern District Health Board management by Health Minister Andrew Little was fair, to a point, chairman Pete Hodgson says.

On Wednesday, when announcing comprehensive reforms of the health system, Mr Little singled the SDHB out for particular criticism, saying that the recent "code black" event = when the hospital was full and several patients were waiting in stretchers to get in — was a prime example of why the system had to change.

"What was that a consequence of?" Mr Little said.

"I would tell you: very poor management, very poor patient planning.’

Mr Hodgson agreed with that comment yesterday.

"I think he is right when he said it was very poor management that we got ourselves in this pickle, and poor planning."

However, Mr Hodgson said there were mitigating factors in defence of the SDHB, the first being that staff moved quickly once the alert was given and that the hospital was back to normal in about seven hours.

"The second is that other DHBs don’t necessarily have that escalation system and if they do it doesn’t become public, but plenty of DHBs have got into difficulty in the past couple of months."

Dunedin Hospital was not an easy building to move patients through, one of reasons for a new hospital, he said.

In general, he supported Mr Little’s bid for a dramatic change of the health landscape, although the day chosen for DHBs to close next year would make for a strange 72nd birthday gift for him personally, Mr Hodgson said.

"I will happily bow out gracefully. I am only in this position because of the very difficult personal health situation [former chairman] Dave Cull faces.

"The proof of the reforms will be in the pudding but I think it’s worth a shot. We are a small enough country to try a centralised model.

"I think the big question mark is whether we can get sufficiently robust locality networks in place to provide the democracy part that any public health system needs, and I know the minister is very focused on that.

"It’s a very important part of the puzzle which has not received a lot of attention yet."

For most SDHB staff the reforms would make little difference as the health system would continue to need doctors, nurses and administration staff Mr Hodgson said.

"Nor will there be any change to what we do.

"We will still go ahead with our strategic rethink, with the mental health review, we will still build a new Dunedin hospital," Mr Hodgson said.



Of course he would agree when the comments came from a fellow party member.

Let’s not mention how we barely get by in a basic flu season, nor the debacle over the ventilation for the isolation wards, nor the lack of basic equipment such as ventilators, nor the dismal cancer treatment/response times that leads to needless deaths - and I won’t even start on mental health.
A fundamental truth about our need to lock down under Covid is that our health system wouldn’t have stood up for a week if the spread wasn’t stopped!!!
Let’s hope that the new structure will be professionally managed, that the public communications is bilateral and authentic, rather than the usual spin we currently get.
Accountability in the management of our country-wide health resources, starting at the top is what IS required.