Delight as hospital meals brought back in-house at Canterbury DHB

E tū is pleased with the Canterbury DHB’s decision not to renew its food service contract with Compass and to bring its hospital food production back in-house.

The 200+ union members employed by Compass at Christchurch, Burwood, Princess Margaret and Hillmorton Hospitals, will all transfer to the DHB’s employment because they are covered by the so-called “vulnerable workers” provisions of the Employment Relations Act.

Jill Ovens, E tū Industry Co-ordinator, Public and Commercial Services, says the workers will keep all their terms and conditions, and pay rates, but there is some uncertainty about having new management and systems after 14 years with Compass.

She says that the cook-chill processes and “Steamplicity” meals were trialled at Canterbury DHB, before being rolled out across the country under the Government’s failed scheme to cut food costs.

Ironically when the Government set up Health Benefits Ltd (HBL) to slash millions from the health budget, Canterbury DHB did not sign up to the ‘national solution’ with Compass, the preferred provider that HBL was promoting, even though Compass was already their food services contractor.

Under the national model, food was to be sourced from companies throughout New Zealand, rather than cooked in-house from locally sourced ingredients, Jill says.

“The standard of food being produced at the Canterbury hospitals was much better than the food being produced under the national model.

“We were told that the DHB wanted to keep the standard up, but they couldn’t under the commitments made with Compass nationally.

“Only six DHBs picked up the model, so the gains from promised economies of scale were never realised. Compass had to be bailed out under an ‘uplift’ clause. And the DHBs took back control of HBL, setting up Health Partnerships Ltd (HPL).”

Jill says it is time to abandon the national food service contract, and take those services that were contracted out at Southern DHB and Auckland DHB back in-house.

“The government needs to heed the calls by communities in Otago and Southland, as well as in areas such as Gisborne and Pukekohe for the return of fresh, locally prepared hospital food and meals-on-wheels.”


For more information, contact:

Jill Ovens E tū Industry Co-ordinator, Public and Commercial ph. 027 446 4966