The Community Compass

The debate over the District Health Board’s proposal to use Auckland based food supply company Compass for hospital meals in Dunedin and Invercargill has caused significant anguish in the community. The proposal will see frozen meals only heated in Dunedin with the loss of about 20% of kitchen jobs run by the SDHB. The anguish the proposal has created in the community has centred around, food quality, loss of local supply, redundancies, and the 15 year contract period. While the SDHB has claimed that the proposal will provide $7 million of savings the community feels that those savings may not eventuate, and there is strong concern over the financial management of Compass.

What has become clear in the argument is the feeling that the community has lost control of the decision-making process and management of their own hospital resources, which will be controlled by a large multi-national company. There is a strong view in the community that the hospital is owned by the community for the community. At the recent Octagon protest many placards revealed “our hospital and “our kitchen” which shows just how strongly people identify with the resource in the city. The other point is the loss of jobs and supply contracts from local people, which has dismayed many, as region’s like Dunedin fight so hard to retain employment in their area.

Community’s and their citizens have very strong social and familial loyalties to where they come from and where they live. Those loyalties may embody other values including strength, commitment and positive parochial feelings of care or stewardship for the community and its institutions. Such characteristics should be maintained and nurtured to ensure a cohesive community that will care for its citizens and have citizens that care for one another. However, it seems that such values have become secondary to the financial gains that may accrue. As regional areas in New Zealand continue to struggle in the present climate, it’s all the more reason that we have faith in local people and local resources in our community.

4 thoughts on “The Community Compass

  1. SMC Head Chef

    You have summed up the situation most succinctly Paul. The projected savings will not eventuate as increased costs (claimed by Compass saying their food costs have increased will erode any savings claimed ) Compass work in collusion with their suppliers and receive massive kickbacks to the cost of Compass customers. Also the list of “extras we are not told about do not come under the contract and start applying straight after the honey moon is over. As the rest of the world is going to local supply we have to do the bloody opposite



    1. Paul on the Peninsula

      The business model and contract period of 15 years have to be of major concern in the face of fluctuations of commodity and service prices which will eat away any likely savings. Short-sighted decision in my opinion and a kick in the guts for the community.

      Paul Pope

  2. Douglas

    Paul I agree with the thrust and sentiment of your message. But when you say “What has become clear in the argument is the feeling that the community has lost control of the decision-making process and management of their own hospital resources, which will be controlled by a large multi-national company.” This is not strictly true. The ultimate control is with the government through its board. The bottom line as expressed by Mr. Thomson on television last night, was the cost saving that can be achieved. It seems to be nothing more nothing less. One might need to consider what is needed to change this mind set.

    1. Paul on the Peninsula

      I think what needs to change is that hospitals are actually community institutions developed for community care, and that Boards are only stewards of these institutions elected by the community to ensure their management. That means a mindset change in the way that Boards operate and consult with the community. The recent Compass debate highlighted for me the woeful interaction of the Board with the community and its failure to be transparent in both the consultation and decision-making process. I’ve been made aware that there are other external pressures on the Board that Mr Thomson intends to bring to light via social media. My thoughts are, why were these issues not raised and promulgated with the community immediately they occurred? While the government has ultimate control of healthcare management and funding, it is actually the taxpayer who funds healthcare, and the accountability of that funding rests with the elected Boards.


Leave a Reply