PSO not taking action over axing

Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) has decided against taking legal action over its dumping as a home-support provider, saying it wants to avoid uncertainty for clients and staff.

PSO chairman Frazer Barton said in a statement yesterday it was a difficult decision, because PSO felt it had been treated unfairly by the Southern District Health Board.

The shake-up has cut PSO out of home-based services, for which it had a $5.5 million annual contract.

PSO had indicated it would lodge an interim legal injunction if its last-ditch plea to the health board last Friday was unsuccessful, but yesterday PSO said legal action had an uncertain outcome and could create stress.

''Clients and staff now need clarity about their future and any further action taken by PSO would prolong an already protracted transition.

''Taking further legal action would not ultimately result in the reinstatement of PSO as a provider, regardless of any judicial review outcome.''

However, the health board faced the ''court of public opinion'' over the decision, which drew a petition with more than 13,000 signatures.

Losing the contract had an ''impact'', but PSO was large and remained viable.

Health board chief executive Carole Heatly welcomed the news, saying in a media release PSO was disappointed, but the process had been fair.

''PSO was not chosen as a preferred provider because its tender proposal was not as good as the successful applicants'.

''Our process was externally audited. The new model of care, which will provide a better service to clients, was extensively consulted on and has wide support.''

The health board is moving to a bulk-funded service with three providers rather than 17, to be phased in over four months from March 1.

A health board meeting document released this week to the Otago Daily Times shows PSO and partner Disabilities Resource Centre Southland (DRCS) were on a shortlist with Access, Healthcare NZ, Royal District Nursing Service, Nurse Maud, and Lifewise.

Theirs was the only joint bid, and they were the only existing providers on the shortlist to miss out.

PSO and DRCS, along with successful tenderers Access, and Healthcare NZ, provided about 84% of home-support in Otago and Southland.

The other successful provider was the Australian-owned, Auckland-based Royal District Nursing Service.

The document said the McHale Group was appointed as a probity adviser for the tender and expressions of interest process, because of legal action that arose from a similar process in Capital and Coast DHB.

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