8 May 2015

Southern DHB could face legal action

8:19 am on 8 May 2015

Southern District Health Board could face legal action following its controversial decision to outsource food services.

The health board yesterday approved a plan to outsource its hospital kitchens to international catering company Compass, a move being met with criticism from unions and community groups.

About 100 people gathered in the public gallery to oppose the hospital kitchen outsourcing.

About 100 people gathered in the public gallery to oppose the hospital kitchen outsourcing. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The DHB decided to go ahead with the plan in a bid to save at least $7 million over the next 15 years.

But the change means up to 20 percent of kitchen staff could lose their jobs.

The Service and Food Workers Union is considering taking the matter to court to make the DHB change its decision.

Union organiser Anna Huffstutler said it was an option worth considering.

"Hopefully it [legal action] might take it back and make the DHB reconsider, that would be the ultimate result. They've got to look at their actions because from our perspective, it's not warranted," she said.

"It was quite an insult to our members because our members have all that institutional knowledge of how those kitchens run.

"They were quite willing to engage with the DHB to help recognise savings without having to be contracted out."

Ms Huffstutler said the plan was unlikely to be effective or save the health board considerable amounts of money because it had not proven effective for others in the past.

The president of Grey Power Southland, Spencer Morrison, said the decision did nothing to help people in the region, including the elderly.

He said it made no sense to have food bought in from Auckland where Compass had its headquarters.

"It's the lack of use of people here in the deep south. We are important ... why import food and bits and pieces from Auckland, to put our people out of work?" he said. "This is stupid."