The Southern District Health Board will be run by a Commissioner through to 2019, under a special extension announced by the Government.
Dunedin legal consultant Kathy Grant will continue in the lead role which she took up in June, after Health Minister Jonathan Coleman sacked the entire elected board.
The term extension means Otago and Southland residents will not get to vote for a new board in next year’s local body elections, as was previously promised.
However Ms Grant says the decision will give the Commissioner's team more time to reposition the DHB, as it struggles under the weight of massive deficits. She says the team is working towards an agreed deficit of $35.9 million in the current financial year (down from original estimates of up to $42 million).
“The DHB takes the deficit position very seriously”, says Ms Grant. "There is a shared determination across the Southern health system to ensure we get back to a stronger financial footing.”
She says the team is working towards financial sustainability for the Southern DHB, but accepts short-term cost cutting won't achieve the results they need.
"We recognise that it's necessary to invest in order to save, we are looking to invest in our people, infrastructure and facilities. We have outstanding staff in all providers who continually demonstrate their commitment to improvement and innovation."
The Southern DHB is responsible for the provision of health and disability services in the Otago and Southland regions.