Queenstown ‘won’t suffer’ in health reshuffle

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Queenstown will not lose out when the Southern District Health Board’s strategic plan is implemented, a Queenstown-based board member says.

The SDHB will hold a drop-in session at Queenstown Memorial Centre today from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

The strategic plan, released in mid-October, suggested an acute services hub be established in the Dunstan-Queenstown area with “collaborative planning” and “networked delivery” but there was scant detail.

SDHB board member Tony Hill, a Queenstown businessman, was confident services in the resort would not be cut when the plan was implemented.

“I don’t think we’ll suffer; we definitely won’t be going backwards,” he says.

“We’ve just committed to quite an upgrade in terms of repairs and maintenance at Lakes, which is partly under way now.

“That shows we’ve got a commitment to maintain the services that are there.”

In September, Mountain Scene revealed SDHB was angling to offload Queenstown’s hospital to a local community trust.

Also, the health board canned a planned substantial upgrade of Lakes District Hospital (LDH), which it had previously committed to because its priority is now a rebuild of Dunedin Hospital.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell says if Hill was correct then he appeared to be contradicting SDHB planning and funding executive director Sandra Boardman’s comments about not expanding the Frankton hospital.

“The draft strategic plan changes are vacuous in respect of Queenstown and other rural hospitals.

“The real issue is whether they will offload LDH onto a community trust thereby increasing.”

SDHB’s power over LDH and its responsibility and accountability reduced leaving a powerless trust to cope.

“I think Tony Hill’s head is in the clouds and he needs to reconnect with his feet on the ground.’

david.williams@odt.co.nz