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Southern DHB’s decision to outsource its food services and lay off staff  was forced on it by the Government’s drive to screw down costs, Labour’s Dunedin MPs David Clark and Clare Curran say.

“The DHB has been pushed into a corner by the Government,” David Clark says. “They were damned if they didn’t accept the proposal – they would have had to stump up for a business case to keep the service in house – and damned if they did, with around 20 per cent of kitchen staff expected to lose their jobs.

“The proposal was initiated by a Government-funded agency  in an attempt to find solutions to rising costs. That agency, HBL, is in the process of being wound-up, and is being investigated by the auditor-general. Our district health boards, already stretched financially through years of underfunding,  are having to pay for its mistakes.”

 Clare Curran said those cost pressures were forcing Southern DHB into making decisions that were not in the long-term interests of the community.

 “The first draft financial templates for its 2015/16 annual plan indicate a potential $42 million blow. Keeping a lid on that means we are going to see a lot more retrenching of services over the next year.

“The Government doesn’t seem to understand how far-reaching the job losses will be, and from all accounts it doesn’t really care,” Clare Curran said.