The love’s gone, SDHB, take a hike

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PARTING SHOT: It’s a horrible feeling. Your relationship’s broken but you’ve gone to the counsellor to make it work.

You’ve attended couples therapy sessions but finally come to the realisation the love’s gone. You’ve given everything but all you see from the other side is the same old platitudes.

They’re saying: “Baby, I’m gonna change.” But what they really mean is: “I don’t really think I’ve done anything wrong and I’m not about to accept responsibility for my mistakes.”

It’s hard for Queenstowners not to feel this way about the Southern District Health Board’s overtures over our hospital.

Before the courtship started, Queenstown – having been burned before – said it expected more from its next partner.

We wanted better funding and a better range of services at Lakes District Hospital, the Wakatipu Health Trust survey revealed in 2009.

A few months later the trust said the community wasn’t getting the care it needed – particularly for inpatients and aged residential care.

Baby, that’s just not right, the then health board said – you’ve got enough beds until 2026.

In early 2010 it looked like there might be a ring on the finger. A public consultation document was released (public display of affection?) detailing a major revamp of health services in Queenstown. We were in love.

Months later the Southern District Health Board was created – the merger of the Southland and Otago health boards – and ran with the consultation.

A year later our new love interest pushed our buttons again, saying it would immediately explore the redevelopment of Lakes District Hospital. “Baby, let’s get beyond the talking.”

In 2012, expressions of interest from health providers are called for a so-called health campus and promises made for a CT scanner in Queenstown (oh, and Clyde).

But late last year, our health reference group (kind of like a counsellor) notes the lack of progress: no CT scanner; no health campus. Clyde got the CT scanner (bitch).

Then, this year, mixed messages. In April, the DHB unanimously endorses a health campus in Queenstown. But in September, via this newspaper, the SDHB says it’s found someone else.

“Remember Dunedin Hospital? She’s been neglected. She needs my love more than you.”

The couples therapy, if you like, the SDHB’s chance to get us back is its grand strategic plan.

Despite the broken promises, Queenstown was ready to hear how it could salvage something. We’ve got history, you know?

But what we got was 96 pages of gobbledegook. We got vague talk of an acute services hub to be shared with our love rival, Clyde.

The strategy said: “Establishment of an acute network will provide a collaborative environment in which the various service providers across Queenstown and Central localities (including SDHB itself) can consider how best to configure local services and manage acute pathways to and from the major hospitals.”

Huh? But do you still love us???

Last week, SDHB turned up in Queenstown to talk it over; the one-on-one session. But, as health advocate Maria Cole rightly put it, without any specifics what can the public say about the strategy?

Four years since SDHB was created, we’ve got the same old hospital and promises of, well, something. There’s talk of a community trust running the hospital and maybe it’s what the SDHB wanted all along.

“Queenstown’s too demanding. She nags all the time.”

Maybe it’s time we took control of our own destiny. You’re not going to change, SDHB.

The trust’s gone. Take a hike.

david@scene.co.nz