Kitchen change will have cost

Privatising southern hospital kitchens will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before any ''savings'' can be realised, a new document reveals.

A consultation document released by the Southern District Health Board shows the net extra cost in the first few months of Compass Group taking over the service would be $690,000.

That is based on $1.12 million newly revealed implementation costs, offset by ''gross benefits'' of $430,000, in 2015-16.

When the board approved privatisation in principle last year, it publicised claimed savings of $870,000 in the first full year, without mentioning implementation costs.

The document says the $870,000 figure was realised in the ''first full year'' of privatisation, 2016-17.

Staff will not know for many months if their jobs are safe, but the document said Compass was likely to need fewer of them.

The board's final decision on whether to go ahead is due in April.

Meals-on-wheels will be delivered frozen, and reheated in hospital kitchens before delivery, the document shows.

Hospital patients would receive ''cook chill'' meals, which involved a higher proportion of pre-cooked components than was used now.

Compass would also take over the in-house staff cafeterias, which did not include the likes of the Dispensary in Dunedin Hospital.

Compass would take over between October and December, after which there would be a long lead-in time while it evaluated the service.

The company's own food service model would not be in place until April 2016.

''If the proposal goes ahead and Compass Group become responsible for food services, it is likely that their future model would require fewer roles than at present.''

Staff who declined to transfer to Compass would not be eligible for redundancy payment.

No changes were planned at Lakes District Hospital.

It was claimed the privatisation of hospital kitchens in Dunedin, Wakari and Invercargill would save more than $7 million over 15 years.

The document was released to staff yesterday as part of the consultation process.


Story so far


April 2013: Confidential plan for national food service revealed in Parliament with leaked national planning document. Compass Group named preferred provider.

Date unknown: Plan changes to give boards more flexibility over joining the service.

June 2014: Service and Food Workers Union members demand answers at Southern District Health Board meeting in Dunedin, after more than a year of uncertainty.

December 2014: Southern approves privatisation in principle, pending final decision. Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata announce they are joining service.

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