'Value' for money?

It's tough at the top.

Is there any sympathy out there for chief executive Carole Heatly, Commissioner Kathy Grant and her deputies tasked with turning around the indebted Southern District Health Board?

Judging by the almost instantaneous and unanimous flow of written responses to this newspaper about the board's newly announced set of "draft values'', apparently not.

The values were devised by the commissioner team and a London consultant in response to public feedback sessions.

They include kindness, listening, communicating, positivity, nurturing, while a list of "unwanted behaviour'' includes the likes of rejecting feedback, excessive grumpiness and showing no compassion.

Letters to the editor have expressed outrage at the whole process: the initial sessions, the results, their tone - and the cost of the project (some $240,000).

Somewhat like the stoush over Compass' hospital meals, it is hard to know whether the comments made represent the full gamut of opinion - or just that of the few who can be bothered responding.

The commissioner team maintains the feedback sessions were well received by those who attended, and seem genuine about the value of the whole process.

They also said their one-page work plan, released at the end of last year, was well received by hospital staff. And they have re-established committees and opened them to the public.

So what are they doing so wrong in the eyes of the public?

It seems the commissioners have underestimated the enormous frustration and distrust within the community, the very genuine fear about the potential loss of services given the financial plight (which makes any spending doubly scrutinised), and the public's lack of appetite for anything resembling "spin''.

While this newspaper also looks on askance, and sometimes aghast, we can only hope - and have to trust - there is far more than meets the eye.

It is worth remembering platitudes such as Rome (or indeed neighbouring Christchurch) wasn't built in a day.

The commissioners are rebuilding morale from the ground up (and who knows, we may even get a new physical hospital, too).

Can it be anything else but a long, slow, painful process?

Surely, behind the scenes, the real work is being done?

Surely it will all be "worth it'' in the long run?

Underdogs and unalloyed joy

The world loves an underdog, David against Goliath, small business against the big corporation and the written-off sports team winning the big league.

It is little wonder the wondrous win of the English Premier League by Leicester City is being celebrated with fervour and relish.

Last year, the club faced relegation.

This season it surprised with a promising early run and then kept on winning, and winning.

A team sprinkled with rejects, costing a tenth of Manchester City's in transfer fees, proved to have the skill, determination, teamwork and esprit de corps to go all the way.

The pre-season odds of 5000-1 from bookmaker William Hill were ridiculously long.

In the same bracket are Elvis Presley being found alive, the Yeti or Loch Ness Monster being proven to exist, Barack Obama playing cricket for England and Kim Kardashian being elected US president in 2020.

Apparently, William Hill will be more prudent with its football odds.

Interestingly, in 2010 it had pre-tournament odds of 2000-1 on the New Zealand football team winning the World Cup.

Remember the elation when the underdog Highlanders won the Super rugby competition last year.

After the failures of 2014 and its line-up largely of other regions' discards, the team's odds pre-season were 26-1, slipping to 31-1 after a first-up bye and then a loss. What a thrill victory gave to the team, its supporters and to the South.

Just imagine then the feelings of Leicester fans and in that city.

Even though football is only sport, it is important to the identity of many in England.

It is also the one truly international game and the EPL is the world's most followed league and the one with the most depth.

No wonder the sense of achievement and excitement is bringing with it unalloyed joy.

No wonder the city rang through the post-victory night to cries of "champions'' and a cacophony of car horns.

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