30 Jan 2010

Division over single Southland, Otago health board

5:36 am on 30 January 2010

Strong differences have emerged among residents of Southland and Otago on whether there should be one district health board representing both regions.

The existing boards have consulted over their plan, and released the findings under the Official Information Act.

Of the 212 submissions, 54% were in favour, 34% against, and 11% unsure.

More than 60% of responses came from Southland, with half opposed to the plan for a single district health board. Many of those said it could result in a loss of services and representation for the region.

In contrast, more than 80% of the Otago residents who sent in submissions backed the plan. Many said there are too many DHBs and that services, and recruitment and retention of health workers, would be boosted.

Southland DHB chairman Paul Menzies says if the board was to make a decision to go ahead with the merger it would have to be on the basis that fears among Southland people were allayed.

A decision will be made at a board meeting on 11 February, he says.