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The Southern District Health Board has announced it is going ahead with a plan to outsource its hospital kitchens.
The move will see up to 20% of food workers lose their job.
The board was not swayed by the strong public presence at today's meeting, at which Grey Power, unions, workers and members of the public implored the board to rethink the proposal.
The decision was taken during the public-excluded section of this morning's meeting in Dunedin.
After the meeting, the board issued a press release.
Chairman Joe Butterfield said: ''This has been a contentious issue and a difficult time for staff. We will support all affected staff through the process of transferring to Compass and will work with Compass to ensure that any job losses are at a minimum''.
''The community can be assured that food will continue to be of a high quality and that the range of meals and nutritional content will be improved.
''The supply of food will remain secure. Compass are experts in providing meals in situations where supplies would otherwise be interrupted and contingency plans will be in place for any natural events,'' Mr Butterfield said.
A petition with more than 7000 signatures opposing the outsourcing of hospital kitchens was presented at a crowded Southern District Health Board meeting this morning.
More than 100 members of the public attended to protest the plan.
Some reacted angrily when a bid by board member Mary Gamble to shift the decision into the public part of the meeting was rejected by other board members.
Her motion found only one supporter, fellow elected board member Dr John Chambers.
''What have we got to hide?'' Mrs Gamble asked.
Some members of the public fired irate comments at the board before filing out of the meeting.