Finally SDHB unveils its proposed health fix


Authorities are pushing for a radical new healthcare model in Queenstown, mixing GP and clinical options with hospital services at a single site.
Southern District Health Board chief executive Brian Rousseau yesterday (Thursday) unveiled its long-awaited proposal – for a one-stop shop Integrated Family Health Centre. 

Its services would include GPs, walk-in and nurse-led clinics, diagnostics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists – “and other health providers supported by a hospital service to cater for the most urgent of hospital care”. 

Rousseau publicly announced the model after presenting it to Lakes District Hospital staff in Frankton. The staff and their union have until March 18 to lodge feedback to the proposal before it is later presented to the health board for a final decision. 

“I’m confident our recommendations can ensure residents are provided with a safe, modern, accessible and sustainable community health service. 

“Southern DHB’s management team are convinced the development of an integrated model of care, with primary care (community) and hospital services working closely together is the way forward for the Wakatipu,” he says. 

Rousseau expects such a centre will take up to two years to develop – and require either a redevelopment of LDH or be sited at a new health centre development in nearby Remarkables Park. Coincidentally, hours later Remarkables Park and Queenstown Medical Centre

Rousseau also unveiled an interim proposal for healthcare from July 1 until the new IFHC is developed. 

It involves a controversial move to turn away patients from the hospital Emergency Department who are deemed to have ailments that can be treated by GPs. 

“LDH emergency department, between the hours of 8am to 10pm, will refer those patients that can be safely and effectively treated by GPs to the local GPs.” 

Rousseau told media these decisions would be made by a triage nurse.

It’s anticipated such a set-up could reduce hospital doctor numbers from eight to six and the nursing staff from 17.9 to 17.1 full-timers. 

The cash-strapped board will put the $500,000 in annual savings towards patients facing financial hardship who can’t afford to pay for a GP, Rousseau says. 

Asked how Queenstowners will be better off under this model, Rousseau said: “You would have all your providers co-located, you would be able to get all different types of treatment at the same time, you would be able to attract more specialist clinics at a centre such as this and I think have better access.”