We’re watching you, SDHB

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Frank Marvin runs his eye over the National Health Board expert panel’s groundbreaking report into Wakatipu services

The Wakatipu isn’t alone in mistrusting Southern District Health Board – the National Health Board’s panel of experts is also sceptical. 

The panel’s sentiments surface in its far-reaching report on Queenstown health services released last week. 

Among the panel’s 21 recommendations are: Retaining and expanding the existing Lakes District Hospital; creating a “health campus” with an emergency department, a CT scanner and more aged residential care; and for it to become a training ground for rural practitioners. 

Under a subheading “Implementing Change”, the NHB orders SDHB to get cracking: “Implement­ation [of the panel’s findings] is critical to moving the Wakatipu forward after years of uncertainty and to start the process of building trust and confidence … between the community and SDHB.” 

No duck-shoving: “SDHB [must] show leadership and a strong presence in the region to advance this range of initiatives”. 

And Well­ing­­­­ton will be watching, the report warns: “The NHB will continue to support the implementation process to ensure the Wakatipu population receives the benefits from this process.” There are also local scrutineers: “The [Wakatipu] Community Reference Group will play a key role in keeping this programme of work on track and ensuring SDHB delivers on these commitments.” 

Perhaps because SDHB boss Brian Rousseau quits his $500,000 job tomorrow week, the NHB panel leaves nothing to chance by laying down a detailed Wakatipu action plan, broken down into short-, medium- and long-term tasks for SDHB to follow over the next 12 months. 

Such a specific plan can only be to pin SDHB down – a wise move, considering a key initiative in the Wakatipu health plan has already been stalled. The NHB wants a CT scanner at Frankton’s Lakes District Hospital for on-the-spot diagnoses of Queenstown’s high number of trauma patients. 

At its meeting last Friday, SDHB chairman Joe Butterfield begged for the scanner decision to be “parked” for a month – to resolve whether it should be housed at Clyde’s Dunstan Hospital instead.