Board left to 'court of public opinion'

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013

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Presbyterian Support Otago has dropped its threat to take legal action against the Southern District Health Board.

The organisation was considering litigation after it was dropped late last year as a home services provider.

The health board reaffirmed its decision at a meeting on Friday.

Yesterday, PSO chairman Frazer Barton said the decision was the result of a flawed process with an unjust outcome but clients and staff now needed clarity about their future.

Any further action taken by PSO and its partner, Disability Resource Centre Southland (DRCS), would prolong an already protracted transition, he said.

"Taking further legal action would not ultimately result in the reinstatement of PSO as a provider regardless of any judicial review outcome."

Health board members voted unanimously not to appoint the PSO as a fourth provider of home and community services on Friday, despite the presentation of more than 13,000 signatures asking the board to reconsider.

DRCS general manager Debbie Webster said she could tell the board was resolute in its decision, based on the reaction to the PSO presentation at the meeting.

She was disappointed with the outcome, but said DRCS supported the PSO's decision not to start High Court proceedings.

Mr Barton said the health board would now have to "fight it out in the court of public opinion", rather than the High Court.

Health board chairman Joe Butterfield said the PSO was being "disingenuous" with comments about public opinion.

"We have always said this was a tender process and the PSO was not one of the successful tenders."

Health board chief executive Carole Heatly said PSO was not chosen because its tender proposal was not as good as the successful applicant's.

"We consulted extensively on the new model of care and the model was supported by PSO, who also supported the tender process.

"Our process was externally audited. The new model of care, which will provide a better service to clients, was extensively consulted on and has wide support."

A series of workshops for clients and support workers start on February 18 in Mosgiel, before coming to Gore, Alexandra, Invercargill and Balclutha.

The final workshop will be held in Dunedin on February 26.

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