Health report isn’t worth the long wait

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Solutions for the Wakatipu’s public health woes won’t emerge in a long-overdue official report on local hospital services.

The Otago-Southland District Health Boards’ “hospital capacity review” – to be released this week – will instead look at what’s offered and used at Lakes District Hospital, DHB boss Brian Rousseau confirms.

Queenstown has been awaiting this much-trumpeted document for two-and-a-half years.

Rousseau admits the review contains “a lot of the stuff” featured in a recently-released “needs assessment” report by healthcare analyst Chris Fraser, commissioned by the Wakatipu Health Trust action group.

Fraser’s report also spotlighted glaring gaps in local public healthcare – including maternity, elderly care and patient transfers to distant hospitals. Ironically, Fraser was also the initiator of the DHB “hospital capacity review” when employed there as planning and funding boss.

Announcing the DHB review in June 2007, Fraser said it would take three months – but the Wakatipu has been impatiently waiting ever since.Now in the private sector, Fraser took just 15 weeks to produce his similar report for the local health trust.

After the imminent DHB hospital capacity review, Rousseau says the next stage will look at future planning for LDH – but that hasn’t begun.

“We haven’t worked on the next phases yet … [they are] about what does the future look like and what service changes are required.”

Rousseau hopes this next stage will be completed by late November – but there are no guarantees. “It’s almost about how long is a piece of string.”

His DHB will need to consult various healthcare providers before final conclusions are reached.

“Whilst we may have a timeline that we’d like to get it completed by the end of November, after you’ve gone through the process with everybody you find you’re into next year.”