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Waitaki District Health Services will seek outside providers to prepare food for patients at Oamaru Hospital, it has been confirmed.
On October 13, the Otago Daily Times reported there was speculation around the Oamaru community that the kitchen at the hospital would close and meals would be provided by an outside contractor.
At the time, Waitaki District Health Services chairman Chris Swann dismissed those claims but did confirm a review of the kitchen operation was under way, which included consultation with staff.
Speaking late last week, Mr Swann said the consultation period had ended and a meeting held to discuss the feedback that was received.
As a result, it was decided to begin talking to potential providers as soon as possible.
"We are going to look for an outsourced provider for the food. That process will get under way from now.''
"If we can find and appropriate local provider that can meet all of our requirements, then we will look at that proposal.''
Those included nutritional value, the menu offered and costings.
Mr Swann did not confirm the kitchen would close, but said food preparation was not the hospital's ``core business'' and consideration needed to be given to the financial costs associated with running the kitchen.
"Our initial analysis is that it will be a benefit to the hospital if we can find a local provider.''
He said job losses were possible if the kitchen was to close.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said there was two major factors that needed to be considered.
"We want them to be running efficiently as a hospital and do things hospitals need to do ... but we're also mindful of the employment situation. We want them to get that balance right.''
No timeframe was given as to when a decision would be made on the kitchen's future.
Waitaki District Health Services, a Waitaki District Council-controlled company, owns and operates the hospital.