Southern District Health Board

A major development in the wings for the SDHB. Not before time! And while individual board members may feel aggrieved at their potential dumping, after what they may think has been all solid work and duty, the evidence is the health board has been operating with a screaming history of multimillion-dollar losses; obvious limitations for effect of timely interventions for many commonly experienced medical conditions; and within an array of building and facility conditions that, frankly, are a severe indictment on central government spending priorities and funding methods for Health.

Replacing the health board with a commissioner is both necessary and welcome, if not callously overdue. The make-do and rationed aspects of the health board regime, including recent losses of funding or subsidy to local health support services, are telling not only for urban areas and hospitals, but significantly debilitating for rural health, mental health, rest homes and dementia units, and other providers of crucial health services across the large territory that is Southern Health.

### ODT Online Tue, 9 June 2015
Board may be sacked
The Southern District Health Board may be given its marching orders and a commissioner installed to sort out its problems. The board has until Thursday to respond to Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman’s proposal to consider appointing a commissioner under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, it was revealed yesterday.
Read more

Related Post and Comments:
17.6.15 Southern District Health Board sacked !!!
1.5.14 Dunedin Hospital buildings SORRY STATE
16.4.15 Talk of replacing Southern District Health Board with commissioner

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Democracy, Economics, Geography, Media, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, SDHB, University of Otago, What stadium

55 responses to “Southern District Health Board

  1. Cars

    Hopefully, the commissioner should stand aside the CEO, that’s a notional saving of half a million plus emoluments.

    Let’s find a young, extremely intelligent well qualified doctor/administrator, pay off his student loan, pay him $150-$200k and tell him to improve patient services throughout the region on time and on budget. If he doesn’t, reintroduce his loan and choose another candidate who will.

    These boards keep appointing the same career public administrators that have been involved in the failed models.

    Why would you pay a CEO $500k and then appoint a commissioner?

    • Hype O'Thermia

      As we countryfolk used to say, why buy a dog and bark yourself?

      • Cars

        Hype, dogs are cheap, you can get a good barker at the pound for zip and a good biter for a bit of pavlov training. These particular dogs come at a huge cost and they also have potty training, career enhancement, overseas learning experiences to teach them how to do the job, superannuation etc etc.

        I can’t believe that we the people allow these ridiculous salaries for such proven incompetence. It seems better for their pay packets to be actually proven incompetents. See
        Sdhb, Delta, DCC, NZ transport et al.

        I know they are all connected by a circular cord, but politicians!, Public Service management, Health Board managers, power companies, solid Energy etc, They are all monopolies!

        Better to pay them less and if they prove satisfactory, raise their salaries and emoluments accordingly. The KPI’s should reflect what the majority of people expect, not some notion of profit, these managers work represent the people!

  2. Anonymous


  3. Peter

    I imagine once a Commissioner is appointed, Carol Heatley’s days are numbered. Her stupid stunt with that video… increase staff morale…. showed she was not up to the job. Meanwhile, in DCC land, they back slap each other and blow kisses at council meetings.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve heard that Council activities go somewhat beyond “back slapping” and “blowing kisses”.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Theme song adapted from Sinatra’s
        “Whippoorwills call, evenin’ is nigh, hurry to my green heaven
        Turn to the left, a red highlit debt, will lead you to my green heaven.”

  4. russandbev

    It is interesting to note that in the huge public meeting over Dunstan Hospital funding the meeting was fronted by the Chair of the company that runs the hospital with contributions from the CEO and senior staff of the hospital, while the SDHB was represented by 3 staff members. The two SDHB Board members that were at the meeting didn’t even go onto the stage but sat mute in the front row without making one contribution. The buck stops with governance in the end. Whether the Minister can find a suitable person to be the Commissioner is, I suspect, his biggest problem. He hasn’t had any luck with Butterfield, and clearly the rest of the Board has shown no abilities that he recognises. One of the current Board was also dismissed by a previous Minister…..

  5. Calvin Oaten

    Through a spokesman, chief executive Carole Heatly declined to comment. Well, she would wouldn’t she.
    Board member Richard Thomson declined to comment when contacted. WOW!!! That would be a first. He has never, in my recollection, ever been reluctant to pronounce on the wisdom of Richard on any subject you could care to mention. His main forté he would tell anyone (who was forced to listen) is finances and the management of same. His record is quite impeccable, fired from DHB Chairmanship for incompetence, still has the ‘ballsy’ stupidity to stay on for re-election, leaps into print at the drop of a hat to show the world what a prat he is. Then he runs the same ‘ego trip’ on the city council. Gets himself the chair of Finance and Strategy, runs amuck with that as well. When the GCFO foolishly advised that he had located a couple of million dollars of unspent borrowings the ‘prat’ couldn’t leap upon it quick enough to spend it on lights for the Logan Park Cricket ground. Between the stolen $16 million of hospital board funds under his watch and now the lights, lies a fog of crass incompetence fostered by an insanely huge self rating which is about as vacuous as what lies between his ears.

    • Douglas Field

      Will he be excoriated by these words? Not a bit of it. Hide of an elephant this ‘person’.

      • Calvin Oaten

        A clinical psychologist no less.

        • @Calvin Oaten
          June 9, 2015 at 4:41 p.m.
          A clinical psychologist no less.
          Calvin Is there something in the air that affects clinical psychologists in some peculiar way? Professor Stephan Lewandowsky is such a person. Here is a comment re him in the Daily Telegraph. Something to do with cognitive dissonance perhaps? He (Lewandowsky) is after all a ‘true believer’.

          Hilariously, the Telegraph has published an article promoting Stephan Lewandowsky’s “conspiracy theorist” paper – you know the one that surveyed readers at all the main non-sceptic blogs and discovered that sceptics were all conspiracy theorists.

    • Semper fidelis

      Yep apologies for repeating my self but Thomson suffers from the ‘Darwin syndrome’. Charles Darwin once famously said “ignorance begets confidence more frequently than does knowledge”. He went on to explain that stupid people don’t have the wit to know that they are making a prat of themselves, so they are never embarrassed by their stupidity and in consequence they never lose their confidence. Conversely a talented person who makes a mistake does have the wit to know he has erred, and in consequence may the harbour view that he may not be good enough. His confidence is undermined, and notwithstanding his ‘God given’ talent he will sometimes lack the confidence to believe in his abundant talent. That is why (opined Darwin) that we have idiots in leadership positions and talented people languishing on the sidelines.

      {Possibly your third or fourth use of this material at What if? We get it. -Eds}

  6. Mike

    Let’s not forget that the board chairman and a large chunk of the board are already appointed by Coleman – this is a rearranging deckchairs sort of thing on the part of the National govt.

    As far as I can see currently we have a largely appointed board who pretend to listen to the public but ignore them. Coleman’s plan is to replace them with just one guy who will simply not listen to the public – I’m not sure I really understand the difference.

    What SDHB needs is appropriate financial investment from central government, not some guy pushing deckchairs around.

    • Peter

      Mike. Coleman will want to sack the whole Board so there can’t be a rearrangement of the deckchairs.
      He can’t leave the Board malfunctioning as it is.
      Health, like Education, always needs more money. Both major party groupings are aiming for surpluses, as they should. A $42m deficit by the SDHB is unsustainable.

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Remember Lester Levy, he had the knack of cutting through bull like a freezing worker on a productivity bonus.

  8. Calvin Oaten

    Hype, I can only remember Lest we forget. And why would we want to do that Richard?

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    Radio news bulletin, Dunedin mayor Dave Cull says replacing SDHB with a commissioner = denying democracy. This from the toy-tosser who denied my (and thousands of other people’s) democratic right to be fully represented by Cr Lee Vandervis because he’s got a snitcher against ballsy competent LV.

    Our petty chain’d buffoon at least shows loyalty – to other incompetents who can’t manage money and when it’s in short supply waste it on eg a silly “Lookit Moi, I’m a star” video.

    Could it be that the words “appoint a commissioner” strike deep and icy into his own manly breast?

    • Elizabeth

      What !? Is Cull out of his tiny brain. Or plain scared he and his councillors et all are NEXT. Blood. Baying. Scent in the air.

    • Peter

      The SDHB hardly displayed democracy with the Compass proposal. There was obvious opposition from the poulace at large to this absurd deal.
      Yes, Dave Cull is only saying rhis because his fellow GD councillor is facing being sacked for the second time from the same body.
      Given the present dysfunction on the DCC to manage its financial affairs, the prospect of a Commissioner creeps ever closer.

    • Douglas Field

      @ HypeO’Thermia
      June 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm
      Mr. H.
      You question “Could it be that the words “appoint a commissioner” strike deep and icy into his own manly breast”.

      Maybe Lester Levy’s reputation to cut the crap has reached the mayor and he realises the implication of the word ‘commissioner’. Nah – Dave has too much hubris to even begin to countenance that. Besides he digs crap.

  10. Cars

    Dunedin is a moribund outfit. We should demand a competent commissioner to run the SDHB and the DCC.

  11. russandbev

    The only problem is finding a person of quality, ability and skills to undertake the job – for either the SDHB or the DCC. There are always those “independent Directors” and I can think of several in the Otago area who are nothing other than ravenous vultures who make it their business to be very close to politicians of their own hue. How many can we think of that have used their positions as Government appointees on Boards or advisory panels or whatever to further their personal wealth? Just look around Dunedin or Otago and have a close look at who has been appointed to what to get a grip on what goes on in the wider Old Boys network. That said, it is blindingly obvious that those elected or appointed to the SDHB have not been able to either meet their budgetary constraints or lobby for increased funding based on changing demographics. Coupled with this is a climate where the South Island Boards don’t seem to be able to work together to achieve a much better integrated service.

  12. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Jun 2015
    Quick decision needed – Sijnja
    By Eileen Goodwin
    A Southern District Health Board member says the board is in “suspension” and its fate should be decided quickly. Only Dr Branko Sijnja, of Dunedin, and Kaye Crowther, of Invercargill, would comment when the Otago Daily Times sought reaction to the board’s possible sacking.
    Read more


    The debt is such, the poverty of our health services is such, that frankly it doesn’t matter if a commissioner is local or not. Carol Heatly should say goodbye. She’s too expensive, no matter what nationally determined pay levels are in place. An unimpressive character that has added little since her appointment.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Jun 2015
    Call for local with ‘mana’
    By Eileen Goodwin
    Embattled Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly says if the board is replaced with a commissioner, they must be a local with experience and mana. Whatever happens, she would like to keep her job.
    Read more

  13. Peter

    Carol Heatly has unwittingly fallen into a logic trap with her suggestion that a Commissioner is a local with…..wait for it…… ‘mana’. Carol is Scottish. Is she saying she was a bad choice for CEO because she wasn’t a local….with ‘mana’?
    I would like to keep my job too with $500k in the kitty. Not sure how long her contract is for, but any payout is likely to be expensive. I’m sure she has thought of that and doing her own budget.

  14. Calvin Oaten

    Peter, it is all about priority. Me first then the others.

  15. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Jun 2015
    Planning group approval near
    By Eileen Goodwin
    The group that will plan the rebuild of the clinical services building at Dunedin Hospital is in the final stages of approval, it has been confirmed. The Southern District Health Board previously handled queries on the matter, but on Monday referred questions to Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman. The ”partnership group”, to include representation from the Treasury, was being organised by the Ministry of Health.
    Read more

  16. Elizabeth

    There are fears – although disputed by the board – of a hospital downgrade.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Jun 2015
    Editorial: Health funding also needs scrutiny
    OPINION It seems likely a commissioner will be appointed to sort out problems facing the embattled Southern District Health Board, and its elected members sacked. […] The list of problems facing the board is simply too big to ignore, as well as too difficult, it seems, for the current form of governance to make a real difference.
    Read more

  17. @Editorial: Health funding also needs scrutiny.

    The editorial puts its finger on the very grave situation facing in the first instance the Southern District Health Board. But while the move by the government to appoint a Commissioner to replace the discredited and unloved SDHB seems on the surface to be necessary and good, one is tempted to believe that there are other motives. Was the government’s strategy from the beginning to ensure that the Board was set up to fail?
    Successive SDHB administrations have faced impossible odds in trying to balance its books without success.
    The effect of introduction of population based funding in a comparatively sparsely populated district with an ageing population was always going to count against Dunedin and ultimately adversely affect the function and prosperity of Dunedin Hospital and the University. It’s knock on effect for Dunedin obvious.

    The take away points for me in that editorial are these:

     Dunedin Hospital’s intensive care unit has lost its training accreditation.

     The effect of the loss of teaching and centralisation of services could have on the University of Otago AND Dunedin’s economy.

     A hospital downgrade.

     But the elephant in the room – population-based funding – must surely be properly addressed as a likely major cause of the board’s woes.

    Pardon my cynicism but that seems to have all the hallmarks of a cunning plan.
    The appointment of a Commissioner seems to me to be the next step in nailing up the coffin for Dunedin Hospital and indeed the Otago Medical School.
    These woes are not just the unfortunate and unlamented SDHB’s but all of Dunedin’s.
    Of course there will be the usual denials and protestations from Jonathan Coleman but I see a carefully laid out progression that could well lead to a substantial downgrade of the hospital and its services as well as the university. Paint me sceptical.

  18. Elizabeth

    ### June 11, 2015 – 7:03pm
    No timeframe set for SDHB decision to be made
    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman won’t say when he’ll make a decision about replacing the Southern District Health Board. He may appoint an independent commissioner to run the beleaguered organisation. The minister received a response from the DHB yesterday […] A ministry spokesperson told 39 Dunedin News there’s no timeframe for a decision to be made or announced.
    Read more [no video available]

  19. Elizabeth

    Health board: Tough calls defended, more cuts tipped

    • Douglas Field

      June 12, 2015 at 10:48 am
      Health board: Tough calls defended, more cuts tipped. Well who would have thunk?
      But of course. Cut the lolly – cut the service. Wotta cunning plan! The population based model is wrong. For starters, look at the population demographics of Dunedin and – say Auckland and note the differences.

  20. Peter

    I wonder what Florence Nightingale would have to say? Shame she is dead. Practical, no nonsense woman that one.

    • Elizabeth

      In the absence of Florence was the SDBH Board in charge of its mental faculties when it signed up Compass Group.

  21. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Fri, 12 Jun 2015
    Compass seeks legal advice on releasing meal cost information
    By Eileen Goodwin
    The Compass Group is consulting lawyers over whether to release price per meal information requested under the Official Information Act. The Otago Daily Times asked for the information, which forms part of a 15-year contract awarded to the multinational for Southern District Health Board food services.
    Read more

  22. Elizabeth

    ### June 12, 2015 – 5:51pm
    Suggested DCC restructure displeases some
    Community board members are unhappy with recommendations to change the Dunedin City Council’s structure. 

  23. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Fri, 12 Jun 2015
    Funding fix could cut health deficit
    By Eileen Goodwin
    Fixing the population-based funding formula could remove up to a third of the Southern District Health Board’s deficit, chairman Joe Butterfield says. Mr Butterfield usually dismisses concerns about the controversial formula, which distributes health money by a head count, with adjustments for rural areas, older people, and other considerations.
    Read more

  24. russandbev

    Just announced that Kathy Grant has been appointed as Commissioner as from tomorrow. A very experienced Director with a good track record as far as I know.

  25. Elizabeth

    ### June 23, 2015 – 6:03pm
    SDHB sparks ingenuity with innovation forum
    Southern DHB staff say a creative approach to medicine could help the organisation deal with its financial woes. The board’s just held its first ever innovation forum, with staff discussing new technology and programmes. And it’s hoped the presentations will spark even more ingenuity.

  26. Elizabeth

    In tomorrow’s ODT, an announcement about how much the SDHB Commissioner Kathy Grant and her deputies will be paid.

    I resent any sum paid to RT.

  27. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 25 Jun 2015
    $1400 a day for new health board commissioner
    By Eileen Goodwin
    The Southern District Health Board’s new commissioner, Kathy Grant, will receive $1400 for each day she spends sorting out the organisation. But, it was too early to say how many days that involved, and she was keeping her other job as a legal consultant, Mrs Grant said.
    Read more

    • Simon

      $1400 a day, and still able to keep the other job at a charge out rate of $380 an hour.

      • Peter

        With that kind of pay we should expect performance with a capital P. I would not expect ‘years’ for a turnaround either.
        Aside from that they are talking about a new board at the local body elections next year when surely they want to complete their job by then and hand over.
        Richard Thomson will have to be seen to produce results better than what is evident with his key role at the DCC.
        I feel kind of sick about Dunedin’s future despite the good things the city offers. Could we end up like Detroit?

      • Elizabeth

        Hey, enough to kit out a new house in her retirement, or set up new trust funds for the grandkids.

        • Peter

          It would be interesting to know if there have been any cases where an appointed Commissioner has fluffed the mandate given them. I hope not!

        • Elizabeth

          Given the funding model is wrong, we await Central government change to policy over the top of Commissioner results. Look to the Education sector to see how well or not schools have been served by Commissioners.

  28. Calvin Oaten

    “I think it will take considerably more than days as a board member” says ‘arch embezzler’ Richard Thomson. Well he would say that wouldn’t he? As a person making a handsome living firmly fixed to the ‘hind teat’ of the public purse he has taken this art form to the highest level. He takes $60,000pa from the city’s ratepayers and did take $27,000 from the taxpayer’s health vote and now mysteriously has drawn the short straw and won the raffle to get $900 per day in order to give his vast financial ‘balls up’ experience to solving the SDH system’s problems. Absolutely staggering stuff.

  29. Hype O'Thermia

    He’s not an embezzler, he’s a consultant-grade bamboozler entitled to consultant-grade remuneration. His qualifications are indisputable. He rose rapidly through the ranks after a long apprenticeship period being himself bamboozled by Swann’s fraud, followed by his “journeyman” participation in collective looking the other way while alert flags were hoisted in plain view by Lee Vandervis about the mysterious disappearance of DCC vehicles. Since then he extended his range by accepting the dead guy was the only one responsible for all those missing assets, and his recent curriculum highlight includes being bamboozled by commercial cricket into believing that money saved elsewhere should be spent for their benefit.

    As bamboozlers go he’s an excellent choice. “Been there, been done like a dinner” – where would we find a better qualified suit for the role?

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