Legal threat over health contract

Presbyterian Support Otago say they are prepared to file for an interim injunction against the Southern District Health Board over the loss of a home services contract.

Presbyterian Support chairman Frazer Barton said the decision to continue towards court action was made following a board meeting on Thursday night. He was still waiting on documentation from an Official Information Act request in relation to the health board's tendering process for the home services contract.

"We are prepared to go to court based on the legal advice we have been given and that is that we have a good case."

The basis for legal action was wider than just challenging the tendering process and sat at the heart of the health board's obligation under the Public Health and Disability Act, regarding planning and consultation, Mr Barton said. The Presbyterian Support board still wanted to "explore opportunities for dialogue" before taking court action. A meeting between the chairs and chief executives of both organisations was planned for this week.

On Friday, health board chief executive Carole Heatly said the board was happy to meet with Presbyterian Support about their concerns. The tender process had been fair and transparent, and the board had appointed the best possible providers. "It is important that we put the care of our clients and patients at the centre of our decision-making, and that is what we have aimed to do.

"The process was externally audited and the new model of care, which will provide an enhanced and more flexible service to clients, was extensively consulted on and supported," Ms Heatly said. Part of the contractual process was that both successful and unsuccessful parties were communicated with directly, she said.

A Presbyterian Support petition with nearly 13,000 signatures will be presented to the health board at its meeting on February 8.

Mr Frazer said the number of signatures indicated the community felt they had been deprived of a consultation process.

The Southland Times