System scrapped under outsourcing

An electronic food system worth $350,000 will be scrapped if Dunedin Hospital's kitchen is outsourced.

Southern District Health Board acting chief executive Lexie O'Shea confirmed in an email the system would be redundant.

Two years ago, the board said the Compass Group would use it if outsourcing went ahead.

Installed in 2012 and 2013 to replace a paper-based system, the project was finished around the time the outsourcing proposal appeared.

''The DHB services will always require a process for ordering and managing patient dietary needs,'' the Otago Daily Times was told in 2013.

Mrs O'Shea said the situation had changed.

''Since [the system] was implemented in 2013, the nature of the proposed food service solution has changed from the original indicative case,'' she said.

The board has seemed reluctant to give information about the matter.

An ODT query was lodged on March 25.

Last week, the board said the system was worth $287,500, before responding to further questions with the correct figure yesterday.

''If the proposal to outsource goes ahead as proposed the [food management] system would be replaced with a national electronic system which would use the same interface with other current DHB systems ...,'' Mrs O'Shea said in the email.

A board spokesman said the cost of moving to a new system was factored in to the business case for the proposal.

The board is facing public opposition and a backlash from some meals on wheels drivers to the proposed outsourcing.

A protest is planned on May 2 in the Octagon.

Earlier this month, Auckland consultant Pat Snedden's report said the proposal's financial promises stacked up.

Mr Snedden confirmed his brief had not included analysing prior investment in the kitchen.

The report noted that for Southern, benefits rested on operational savings, rather than avoiding future spending on equipment.

''In SDHB, the avoidance of future [capital spending] is not the driver it is within other DHBs,'' the report said.

The kitchen had an upgrade worth nearly $1 million in 2008. Under the proposal, Compass Group becomes responsible for capital investment.

The board will make a final decision on May 7. The meeting would have been in Invercargill, but has been shifted to Dunedin for unrelated reasons.

Outsourcing is predicted to save the board more than $460,000 a year for 15 years.

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