Queenstown’s new hospital hitch

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Wellington is pushing to put Queenstown’s hospital into a local trust - wrong-footing at least one local politician.

The revelation comes in a tender advert calling for an independent study into the delivery of services at Lakes District Hospital (LDH).

The advert says the Health Ministry is “seeking a solution that will support a study of feasibility of self-governance for the Lakes District Hospital”.

Wellington obviously aims to cut LDH free from Southern DHB and put it into a local trust.

Before Mountain Scene obtained the advert, Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden and local MP Todd Barclay said the study would cover the options for managing and governing health in the Wakatipu.

Mountain Scene called Van Uden and Barclay back to ask if the Health Ministry had misled them.

Queenstown’s mayor repeated “the feasibility study will consider all the options and identify pros and cons of each”.

Van Uden added: “I’ll check that out though.”

Barclay: “What I expect to see in the [feasibility] report…would be, is self-governance a feasible option? If not, what are the alternatives?”

Both politicians stressed Queenstowners would “make their decision”, as Barclay put it, “otherwise it won’t work”.

Van Uden told Mountain Scene last September former health minister Tony Ryall would fund “a feasibility study [on] the community running the hospital” - nothing more has emerged until now.

Mountain Scene called National Health Board acting national director Michael Hundleby to ask whether self-governance via a trust was a foregone conclusion.

Hundleby didn’t phone back.

The Health Ministry says tenders have closed and the feasibility study is due in late May - then public consultation will presumably begin.

Hiving off LDH represents a complete about-turn.

In 2011 a NHB “panel of experts” recommended LDH become a major “health campus”.

NHB boss Hundleby told Mountain Scene then: “We’ll closely monitor progress to ensure services in the Wakatipu are improved in line with the panel’s recommendations.”

Few improvements occurred. NHB, part of the Health Ministry, runs district health boards.