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Senior medical doctors from Southland Hospital today spelt out their concerns over the merger of the Otago and Southland District Health Boards ahead of a decision by the Southland District Health Board on Thursday.
In an open letter to the Southland DHB, Dr Charles Luecker said senior doctors supported positive change, reduced bureaucracy and cost savings, however held grave concerns over the impact of the proposed merger on health services in Southland.
“There has been a worrying lack of detailed information throughout the consultation process and no revision of a discussion document following initial talks between senior doctors and the DHB.
“We remain concerned that Southland will lose a voice in representations while our questions over the lack of detail around what a 'single provider arm' means for Southland Hospital and access to clinical services for the people of Southland have not yet been addressed.”
He added the DHB had yet to provide evidence of any alternatives which might have been considered or demonstrated how the merger may affect Strategic and Annual plans.
“The potential effect of the merger on Southland patients’ local access to health services based on past experiences has not been considered.”
The doctors’ concerns have been outlined in a letter to the Southland DHB today.
“Senior doctors and others have repeatedly raised their concern that they don't know what this merger might mean for the sustainability of the local health service or for Southland's representation within a 'single provider arm',” said Dr Luecker.
“The board just hasn't provided enough information to make an informed decision. It will serve Southland and New Zealand to have the most robust discussion of how to proceed. If this is the first among several steps to amalgamate the DHBs of the South Island and the rest of New Zealand, let it not happen without meaningful and informed discussion. We just want Southlanders to have a fair go.
“We strongly urge the Southland District Health Board to recommend to the Minister that further consultation is required on this issue.”