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Privatisation Threatens Health Integration

7 June 2005

“Laboratory Privatisation Threatens Future Otago-Southland Health Integration”

“The unexpected and dramatic decision of health bosses in the Otago and Southland district health boards to privatise their public hospital laboratories to overseas owned private profit-making companies threatens to destroy the government’s desire for the two DHBs to more closely integrate the provision of clinical services,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“At a recent meeting with senior doctor representatives Otago DHB chief executive Brian Rousseau said that this closer clinical service integration would only work if it had the support and ‘buy-in’ of senior doctors. He emphasised that closer clinical integration must be driven bottom up. He said it would not work if it was top-down driven.”

“But within a month of making that commitment he and his fellow health bosses have betrayed senior doctors by secretively planning to undertake arguably the largest health privatisation in over a decade against the express wishes of its own expert senior doctors. If secretively giving away an essential clinical service to overseas owned private companies whose main focus is their profits is not a top down decision then nothing is.”

“This irresponsible and bureaucratic action by Otago’s and Southland’s health bosses undermines the trust and confidence that senior doctors have in them. Senior doctors will not be able to trust what their bosses say about closer integration in other clinical services again. Once bitten, twice shy,” concluded Mr Powell.


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