Southland DHB has been working closely with neighbouring Otago DHB, since the commencement of our formal, collaborative relationship (called Southern Alliance) on 1 February 2007.
Southern Alliance is a shared, virtual entity and allows each board to remain autonomous - legally and structurally.
Because the two DHBs have many similar key strategic issues and challenges, we agreed to develop initiatives and plans to improve services regionally - across Otago-Southland - under the Southern Alliance agreement, where possible.
Southern Alliance's shared services initiative involves gaining alignment and economies of scale in health services and business support functions across the two DHBs. This includes areas of procurement, finance, planning and funding, human resources, payroll and information systems.
The two DHBs share a single Regional Executive Management Team, with a Regional Chief Executive Officer and regional managers working across the two organisations.
The regional alignment of the business support functions took place during 2007-08 and the two DHBs are now actively developing a regional clinical services model for some clinical services.
Through Southern Alliance, Otago and Southland DHBs intend to plan and fund, purchase and deliver some health and disability services on a regional basis across Otago and Southland, "as if we were one DHB", to ensure health services are equitable, accessible, integrated and sustainable.
The Southern Blood and Cancer Service was the first regional clinical service to be established across the two DHBs. This service involves a single booking (waiting) list for the combined Otago Southland region and has successfully improved waiting times for patients and increased equity of access for patients residing within the Southland or Otago districts.
Supporting this collaborative activity at a governance level are two government appointed Board members who sit on both the Otago DHB Board and Southland DHB Board. A combined Otago DHB Disability Support Advisory Committee and Southland DHB Disability Support Advisory Committee is held to enable a regional planning perspective. A combined meeting also takes place for the Otago DHB and Southland DHB Community and Public Health Advisory Committees.