SDHB video link unsound

Southern District Health Board members have complained about the poor sound quality of the video-conference link connecting Dunedin and Invercargill, chief executive Brian Rousseau has confirmed.

The board is spending up to $25,000 on new equipment, and is upgrading the link to allow more information to be transmitted.

It hoped to have the upgrade complete by the end of the year, but it could take longer.

Billed as the technological salve to the huge size of the new DHB, video-conferencing is available for board and committee members, staff, public and the media.

Most members choose to attend meetings - which alternate between Invercargill and Dunedin - in person.

Members can claim 70c a kilometre for mileage travelled.

The Otago and Southland boards merged in May, although two of its advisory committees were combined before the merger.

Mr Rousseau confirmed board and committee members had complained about poor sound quality, although he could not say how many.

He did not know whether sound issues had entailed extra travel - and therefore expense for the DHB - for members who might otherwise have linked from Invercargill or Dunedin.

Acting chief information officer John Simpson said the upgrade was a high priority.

It was hoped it would be in place by the end of the year, although it was possible only part of the upgrade would be complete by then.

In the meantime, relocating microphones would be considered to cut interference noise, such as paper shuffling.

Mr Simpson said the video-conference facility helped keep a lid on travel costs.

Dunedin-based board member Richard Thomson said he always made the effort to attend meetings in person, because he felt "dislocated" attending by video link, even when the sound and picture was good.

Meeting "dynamics" worked better with everyone around the same table, he explained.

Mileage costs could be managed by car-pooling.

For yesterday's advisory committee meeting in Invercargill, Mr Thomson and Mr Rousseau were sharing a ride.

Oamaru member Helen Algar was also car-pooling, with a Dunedin board member, to attend the meeting.

She was willing to undertake the 664km return trip because she felt more involved in the meeting when attending in person.

She had not had difficulties with sound when linking via video-conference.

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