Get real, health board told


Six-year-old Sofia Sharpe says her arm looked “zig-zagged” when she fell from the monkey bars.

It was broken in two places. She was taken to Lakes District Hospital and given a temporary cast.

However limited space in the hospital’s fracture clinic meant further treatment was at Invercargill’s Southland Hospital.

Mum Suki Lee isn’t happy and says asking young kids to travel that distance is a big inconvenience.

Her comments come as the Southern District Health Board advertises ‘In Your Shoes’ workshops next month - ignoring Queenstown.

Sessions asking patients and families to give feedback on “recent experiences” are scheduled for Dunedin, Invercargill and Alexandra.

Lee reckons the lack of a Queenstown meeting suggests it’s merely a paper exercise. If the board really wanted feedback the sessions would be more convenient, she says.

Lee says she got just a day’s notice for her daughter’s treatment in Invercargill. But she went regardless because Sofia’s first cast was falling to bits.

“It’s a two-hour journey which is hard for kids to start off with. Then to wait in the hospital for an hour and a half, the last thing they want to do is get back into a car.”

Queenstown has a fracture unit but Lee was told the clinic - in a mountain biking and ski town - only takes 20 patients per session.

Granny Kirsty Sharpe, a former local councillor, says Queenstown’s being treated as the poor relation.

Sharpe complained directly saying the meetings are pointless if the area isn’t covered adequately.

Health board boss Carole Heatly says it has five days to schedule 16 meetings across the district.

“Unfortunately, holding workshops in all towns within our catchment during the week was simply not possible.”

The timetable is based on places with the biggest staff and patient numbers - Dunedin and Southland - and Alexandra, as a “central point” for Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka.

Some patients might be helped with travel costs.

In Sharpe’s opinion logistics aren’t an acceptable excuse.

“They shouldn’t hold the exercise if that is the case. The health board have to get real. They are there to look after the people all the people. That is their mandate.”