Health contract terms rolled over

The Southern District Health Board has rolled over its contract with Waitaki District Health Services while talks continue to find a solution to a proposed 5% cut in funding for Waitaki health services.

Deputy chairman Ken Scott said yesterday the health board had agreed to continue with the contract from July 1, the start of the new financial year, which was ''good news''.

The contract would remain under the existing terms and funding and continue while talks were held to resolve the impasse.

The recent sacking of the health board and appointment of three commissioners in its place by the Government had ''not really'' affected talks.

''We would be happy to meet the commissioners and do anything we can to progress the discussions,'' Mr Scott said.

Owned by the community through the Waitaki District Council, Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) has been in discussions with the board since it proposed cutting funding for the Oamaru Hospital and district's health services.

WDHS chairman George Berry said last month the company's directors had rejected any cut in funding, believed it was already underfunded and it should be increased.

The cut would have a major effect on hospital and district health services.

South Otago's Clutha Health First and the Central Otago Health Services had both initially rejected a 5% funding cut, but after talks had respectively settled on 3.6% and 2.1% reductions.

A march to give Waitaki people a chance to support WDHS and oppose any cuts in funding has been organised by Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and Cr Melanie Tavendale for Sunday, gathering at the Farmers Market in Tyne St at 11.45am to march at noon to Takaro Park.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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