How SDHB is ripping us all off


Shocks in health trust report


Glaring gaps in local public healthcare are exposed by an expert report which runs the ruler over Queenstown’s hospital.

The Wakatipu’s dire elderly-care crisis is predicted to worsen, more general medical beds are needed, and more mums are going out of town to have babies.

Also, significantly, the number of sick locals having to be sent to big-city hospitals from Frankton’s Lakes District Hospital – because the under-resourc­­ed LDH can’t treat them – is the highest rate of patient transfer in Otago-Southland.

These are just some of the indictments in a document obtained by Mountain Scene, believed to be the final draft of a “Queenstown health needs assessment” by healthcare analyst Chris Fraser.

His report has been commissioned by the Wakatipu Health Trust after the trust claimed Invercargill’s Southland District Health Board is shortchanging Queenstown by under-funding LDH.

The Fraser Report is due for public release tonight.

Analysing the “equity and accessibility” of LDH healthcare, Fraser says the 22-bed hospital should have another three general beds – now.

And the resort’s population is projected to grow by 55 per cent – more than twice the country’s growth rate – in the next 22 years.

With Southland facing static or declining census numbers over that period, Fraser signals that if Ministry of Health population-based funding is applied fairly then the Wakatipu is entitled to 80-90 per cent of all extra health dollars granted to SDHB for “satellite” hospitals.

Measuring Queenstown’s LDH against other Otago and Southland DHB “satellite” hospitals in Oamaru, Ranfurly, Clyde, Balclutha and Gore, the Fraser Report has no doubt the Wakatipu is being short-changed.

“This combination of statistics points to a hospital [LDH] that is not treating patients for as much of the continuum of care as other [Otago-Southland satellite] hospitals … but instead transferring complex cases out of Queenstown.

“This is consistent with what would be expected in a satellite hospital if there were a shortage of capacity …

“People living in Queenstown currently have low access rates to the health services examined in this report – hospital inpatient services and age-related residential care (ARRC) in particular.”

Fraser warns that continued running down of Wakatipu’s elderly care will make it doubly difficult to improve hospital services for the overall population.

“This outcome is inconsistent with ODHB’s and SDHB’s stated aim to ensure health services are equitable, accessible, integrated and sustainable for the population across the regions’.”

The Wakatipu Health Trust’s Maria Cole declined to comment on the report ahead of its public release.