Editorial: Paranoia rears head

There have been some jitters around town regarding the dual appointment of Murray Cleverley as chair of both the South Canterbury and Canterbury district health boards.

Nothing official, mind, just talk on the street.

And the underlying theme seems to be, "What does this mean for our little hospital?"

The fear is that our $170 million enterprise will be swallowed up by their $1.4 billion juggernaut. Maybe that's just small town paranoia.

Mr Cleverley himself is clear.

He sees benefits for both DHBs, says they can learn from each other. He does not envisage a merger, and says the man who appointed him, Health Minister Tony Ryall, doesn't either. And he is confident he can manage both jobs timewise.

And yes, there will be things that Mr Cleverley sees one board doing that the other could benefit from.

And yes, one person is quite capable of handling both positions timewise.

And Mr Cleverley has done a pretty good job as chair of the South Canterbury board.

Against six regular reporting measures our hospital stacks up reasonably well against others around the country.

But at the same time you can see why there might be some unease in the minister making dual appointments (there are eight other dual chairs or deputy chairs around the country).

Given they are political appointments, it is a fair question to ask if there is some grand plan?

This Government after all is making a big deal of being in surplus by 2014. And health is one of its biggest expenditure items.

So might it make sense to look not only at the running of individual hospitals, but also closely at what efficiencies could be gained between two hospitals that are quite close together?

Efficiencies in booking systems, administration or management as examples?

None of which on their own might equate to a merger, but over time could have the same effect.

Or is that the paranoia kicking in again?

The Timaru Herald