Duck-shoving over Queenstown health reforms isn’t going down well with national health officials.
Concerned: Dr Peter Foley
Dr Peter Foley – chairman of the National Health Board’s expert panel that reviewed Queenstown’s health woes – says he’s concerned about fresh comments made against his health reforms by Southern District Health Board.
SDHB chairman Joe Butterfield was last week quoted in the Otago Daily Times saying SDHB will “pick and choose” which National Health Board recommendations to implement.
Butterfield reportedly said at Thursday’s board meeting that it was never “envisaged we’d be adopting all the Queenstown recommendations carte blanche”.
The comments come despite SDHB formally agreeing to 16 of the NHB panel’s 21 recommendations in October.
Foley’s panel scotched a controversial SDHB scheme to part-privatise Queenstown’s hospital, instead stipulating several major improvements – among them a CT scanner, more staff, and expanded outpatient services.
However, Foley is now worried about SDHB duck-shoving and the NHB has some stern words as well.
Reacting to Butterfield’s comments, Foley says: “It concerns me [they] may represent the reality of politics.”
SDHB board members represent various communities “who might feel they’re in the winner or loser camp”, Foley adds.
He can’t say whether panel findings are binding on SDHB – “only because there was always a bit of doubt about it”.
Yet when SDHB formally adopted all 21 panel recommendations, “it was our expectation it was then up to the DHB to implement them”, Foley says.
The NHB’s deputy national director Michael Hundleby takes a tighter line.
He tells Mountain Scene this week: “We will be closely monitoring progress to ensure services in the Wakatipu are improved in line with the panel’s recommendations.”
Those recommendations aren’t binding on SDHB, and questions may arise over details of implementation – but the reforms have been “strongly recommended for acceptance”, he says.
The NHB terms of reference include responsibility for “funding, monitoring and planning of DHBs”.
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