Should Lakes District Hospital be part-privatised or publicly funded – and why?

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Simon Hayes (mayoral)
The issue of health services is a vexed one, where demand locally and nationally outstrips funding. What the council must do is advocate for a fair share of the health services.

Michael Scott (mayoral)
I am in favour of keeping our local hospital totally government funded. It is a resource our community cannot afford to lose. We live in a reasonably isolated area and need to ensure all our community has the same rights of access to its services. We already have sufficient private specialist services who regularly visit our area that meet the majority of their patients needs.

Vanessa van Uden (mayoral)
It should be publicly funded. Our community contributes our share and therefore deserves equality of service with other regions. I am not against the triage option at Lakes District Hospital as such, but I would need to see a lot more evidence to be assured that our community will be provided with access to the level of free health care we deserve and are entitled to.

Annette Dalziel (Wakatipu ward)
We pay our taxes to provide a public hospital in this area so people have every right to expect access to hospital treatment. We should be focusing on expecting better quality and continuation of services to ensure our hospital offers effective health care.

Cath Gilmour (Wakatipu ward)
Part privatisation should not happen at the cost of public services. I fear this would happen if GPs were the gatekeepers of the A&E Department, as mooted under the Southern District Health Board’s Integrated Family Health Centre proposal. We should not have to pay for health services gained free elsewhere in NZ. We are told the current hospital operation is unsustainable. Where there is extra capacity, Lakes District Hospital could offer private practitioner clinic space to subsidise public services. We could investigate public/private partnerships. We need proper strategic analysis of Wakatipu’s long-term health needs before such decisions are made. Public health services are a fundamental central government responsibility. Research by the Wakatipu Health Trust indicates we are funded less per capita for our health services than elsewhere in NZ. This is not right or fair. Long-term, we New Zealanders are likely to find ourselves having to pay more of our health care needs privately, as expectations and costs of meeting them rise beyond the capabilities of government coffers. But we shouldn’t be doing so ahead of other Kiwis – the cost of living in the Wakatipu is already high enough. Wakatipu’s hospital should be funded on an equitable basis.

Mel Gazzard (Wakatipu ward)
There is opportunity for public-private funding of geriatric care, but overall our hospital services should remain publicly funded. Certainly we have problems with current provision of services but the focus should be on improving these through the public health system. If there is opportunity for a viable private hospital in our district it can be taken up by whoever decides to put up the finance to do so.

John Mann (Wakatipu ward)
Like all service providers, the Lakes District Hospital has to grapple with the balance between the provision of core services and the growing expectations and changing dynamics of the community it serves. Funding these services in a growing environment will always be a challenge and that responsibility lies with Central Government. Within that framework, there may be a need for private providers with specialist skills to augment publically funded services on site but it must remain subordinate to the main objective.

Russell Mawhinney (Wakatipu ward)
I am not averse to a public-private model if one was proposed that is acceptable to the community. It seems that no acceptable model has been proposed yet. The key elements of any proposal must be that it enhances the standard and availability of healthcare services, and that it is affordable. I would be suspicious of any model that creates a monopoly (rather than a competitive environment) amongst private providers, but believe that all options should be considered carefully at this stage. I think the Government will be more willing to assist if we make an effort to help ourselves.

Kevin Peterson (Wakatipu ward)
With a current maximum of 21 beds to cover a resident population of 23,000 and one million visitors, some action is required to improve the overall services and facilites available. Health care is a “hot potato” in all regions as to funding . We need to look at expansion of the current hospital to enable additional beds and an improved procedural medical care to cater for the current numbers and planned population growth.
A part funding by private providers may be a very good solution in that a full medical facility could be established in the region without the need for transfer to Invercargill and Dunedin. Public funding may be a real challenge.

Simon Spark (Arrowtown ward)
Lakes District Hospital should not be privatised. As taxpayers the Queenstown Lakes District deserves a public hospital that is funded according to the needs of the area. The forecast growth for this region in the immediate future would suggest this issue needs sorted out now so that the appropriate services can be identified and provided. Affordable health delivered by a public hospital similar to other smaller regions in New Zealand is the least we should expect.

Simon Stamers-Smith (Wakatipu ward)
Privatisation of the Hospital
I find it extraordinary that under the present system an accident victim can be admitted to hospital at no cost after an accident, but under the new proposed system the local practitioners involved (and I fully recognise that only some are) want get $50 before they will look at an accident victim’s problems. I do not have full knowledge of the matter but it does seem that some doctors are interested in feathering their own nests rather than looking after us Queenstowners. It follows the hospital system should remain publicly funded.

Preston Stevens (Wakatipu ward)
For the present I support Lakes District Hospital being a community hospital in line with outcomes from the community via Health Forums that have been undertaken. This provides a mandate to separate the hospital from the SDHB and for community ownership and governance. This model allows the community to control its own needs and future for the hospital. This is a common and successful model being undertaken for other similar hospital facilities in the region. The QLDC should not have a lead role in this proposed structure, although should have some involvement in representing the district at large.

Trevor Tattersfield (Wakatipu ward)
It is essential that the LDH is managed/controlled by a local trust/board, – and that the first point of contact is not private providers. We are all entitled to first call/emergency access, which should be provided by the local board. I am not aware of the detail of the current proposal, but part-privatisation could assist funding, and be a possibility, provided the above conditions were met.

Graham Thorne (Wakatipu ward)
I believe the Lakes District Hospital is a vital resource and if it is ever under threat of closure, we must look into every possible means of saving it, including privatisation and part privatisation. Our community warrants having its own hospital, not only to service the needs of residents, but also to accommodate the massive number of visitors to our district.

Geoff Wilson (Wakatipu ward)
I have been at various meetings over the last two or three years where I have heard differing points of view as to the hospitals future. At this point I believe the hospital would operate well under trust control, I would have to study the options. The trust systems works well in other parts of Otago/Southland. This wonderful, essential hospital facility has huge potential that has been paid for by taxpayers. I would be grieved to see it flicked off into private hands. This also extends to the selling off of the hospital/land and it being leased back.