Queenstown – the public health services clock is ticking.
Time is running out for locals to have their say on the Wakatipu’s future medical needs, a group calling for a health services shakeup warns.
The Wakatipu Health Trust wants Queenstowners to converge on an inaugural public health forum it’s organising later this month.
The forum will discuss Otago-Southland District Health Board’s fresh proposal to turn the struggling Lakes District Hospital into an integrated family health centre, or a “one-stop shop”, during the next couple of years.
The DHB appears to have changed its tune about whether current levels of public healthcare are acceptable – it’s now admitting some areas are in need of an overhaul.
The trust, which believes the DHB’s move is a positive one, wants the public to get involved in consultation and make their views known.
Trust project leader Maria Cole says she wants to “change the paradigm” of only older people turning up to public meetings to have their say.
“We are really providing an opportunity for people to engage – we’re seeking to involve a much broader range of people.
“We feel these issues are so significant, and this is potentially the last chance that the people of Queenstown will have to engage about the future of our public hospital services, so we think it’s critical.”
The DHB’s submission period closes on April 23.
The trust has several concerns with the DHB proposal, including project timelines, costs, governance structure and potential conflict of interest for local GPs who could turn it into a “monopolistic structure”.
“The trust is not seeking to force its ideas – we have a view … but we are interested about what the community wants,” Cole says.
The forum, held over two sessions on March 27 at City Impact Church, includes presentations by health analyst Chris Fraser, DHB boss Brian Rousseau and the trust.
It is being supported by both Queenstown Lakes District Council and Mountain Scene.