Health headache eases

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A vindicated health lobby group still hopes to have a role with the future direction of Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital. 

Wakatipu Health Trust has been battling for equitable local healthcare for eight years – and this week’s land-
mark report by an expert panel appointed by the Gov-ernment’s National Health Board supports that wish.
 
Among the panel’s 21 recommendations are:
- Retaining and expanding the existing hospital at its Southern District Health Board-owned Frankton site
- Turning it into a “health campus” with an emergency department, a CT scanner, more aged residential-care beds, other health providers onsite
- For it to become a “centre of excellence” for training rural health practitioners. 

“It’s the best possible outcome – a major victory for the community,” the trust’s Maria Cole says. 

A three-month investigation by the panel – as requested by SDHB – has voted in favour of the community and warns SDHB will be monitored as it implements the recommendations. 

The panel wants SDHB to retain governance and funding of LDH – despite SDHB previously mooting that a community trust should run it. 

The panel also wants the health trust, the Wakatipu Health Governance Refer-ence Group and Queenstown Lakes District Council to be part of a “community reference group” to assist SDHB. 

Cole, who is “grateful” to the panel, says her trust’s work is not over yet. 

“We’ve bought about $750,000 worth of equipment for LDH, on behalf of the community. 

“We’re the logical body to retain assets for the community so they wouldn’t disappear back to Southland. We see ourselves most likely continuing those activities. 

“There needs to be more services provided in Queenstown rather than elsewhere,” Cole adds. 

“The DHB’s argument has always been, ‘We provide the services, you just have to come to Invercargill to access them’. And there’s been this strong attitude of ‘We hold the cards’, parochialism and protectionism. Those barriers have to go and the panel has recommended that.” 

SDHB meets in Queens-town tomorrow and will formally receive the report.

 

Thumbs up for Frankton – thumbs down for Remarks Park

The National Health Board’s expert panel weighs up retaining Lakes District Hospital at Frankton versus relocating to Remarkables Park. 

It identifies a host of benefits in retaining the hospital at its existing site and developing it as a health campus for the Wakatipu basin;
- Ample space for expansion which could occur in a staged way based on a well-thought-out master plan
- Security of site as the land and building are owned by the DHB
- Development of the site could also occur initially without disruptions to existing operations. 

“It lays the foundation for the Lakes District Hospital’s future development as a health campus that could attract a range of private and public providers, including the opportunity for training facilities,” the panel’s report says. 

The panel’s report says it acknowledges the Remarkables Park medical facility proposal but does not support public hospital services relocating there. 

“The panel was concerned about future lease costs given the price of land and property in the region and the ability for publicly funded health services to expand in the future. 

“Security of tenure for the DHB on the current site is a key advantage over this option,” the report says.