Staff cuts as health board rationalises

Robert Mackway-Jones
Robert Mackway-Jones
The Southern District Health Board is reducing its planning and funding department and centralising it in Dunedin.

The planning and funding department, as well as the finance department, are being pruned, with 6.5 to 6.8 full-time equivalent positions set to go.

A decision document reveals most of the cuts are from planning and funding, which will also be centralised in Dunedin.

Business analysts will take a greater role in planning and funding, taking on some of its responsibilities.

The DHB has been tight-lipped about the proposal, with the Public Service Association releasing the proposal and decision documents to the Otago Daily Times.

Between 14.5 and 14.8 full-time equivalent planning and funding roles have been disestablished, with 10 positions created.

Three of these would now form a dedicated contracts team.

Business analyst roles reduce by two, to 11, with five to have planning and funding responsibilities.

Some business analyst responsibilities, such as month-end finance functions, would be shuffled into two new accountancy roles.

In the proposal document, SDHB finance and funding general manager Robert Mackway-Jones said the changes were being made to reallocate resources, reduce duplication resulting from the old Otago and Southland board structures, and better support regional clinical services.

"The current structure therefore has been confusing for myself and no doubt could be confusing for external and internal stakeholders as to who owns an issue or who is the `go-to' person."

The board received 54 submissions on the proposals.

Some submitters expressed concern about basing planning and funding in Dunedin, and whether this contradicted the board's "one service, many sites" ethos.

The many sites concept related to clinical services, not for departments like planning and funding.

"Some submissions felt that the Invercargill office should remain open and that the proposal did not allow employment opportunities for Southland-based staff."

Of changes to business analyst roles, some submitters feared the new roles would be too large, and the proposal risked under-resourcing finance, "especially given increasing activity around regional clinical services".

The proposal to introduce mixed business and planning and funding roles created the most concern.

"Many also commented on the hybrid nature of the proposed roles and that the proposal makes it too confusing for stakeholders who really want a single point of contact."

Concerns were raised that if business analysts had planning and funding portfolios they could be "conflicted and that funder independence could be lost or that there could be a lack of focus on funder activity due to the predominance of the provider arm activity".

Interviews for the new roles have been held, with the new structure taking effect on September 20.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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