Joint-venture hospital a step closer


A new hospital for Queenstown is a step closer after a private health company and a charitable trust formed a company to make progress on realising it.

It is understood the Southern District Health Board has also agreed to fund public patients through the proposed independent surgical hospital.

Southern Cross Hospitals Ltd and the Central Lakes Trust have formed the company, Southern Cross CLT Ltd, with equal shares.

It was incorporated last Thursday and has applied for registration under the Charities Act 2005.

Its purpose is to perform due diligence for the plan and, subject to that, hopefully build the proposed hospital.

Southern Cross boss Terry Moore yesterday said the not-for-profit organisation, which is involved in other joint-venture New Zealand hospitals, had looked at Queenstown opportunities for many years.

Central Lakes Trust comprised local people who understood the needs of their region and its community focus sat ”very nicely” with Southern Cross’ approach, he says.

Trust chief executive Susan Finlay says the proposed hospital would form part of the trust’s investment portfolio, now totalling $388million, which it used to fuel its grant budgets.

There would be rigorous financial analysis before any commitment was made, she says.

Professional director Andrew Blair, the former Dunedin Hospital rebuild Southern Partnership Group chairman, worked with Southern Cross to establish the joint venture, publicly announced in July.

Blair said yesterday the next steps included progressing the hospital design and identifying sites.

While the hospital would be independent of the health board, it ”will certainly be available from the day we open for the board to publicly fund services from our hospital”, he says.

The health board was unable to respond to a request for comment by deadline. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult understood it would take up that offer.

Boult says he made representations to the health board about funding public patients through the proposed hospital and was ”delighted to get their agreement to do just that”.

”Such a hospital would cater for not only people who can just pay the cost, or have medical insurance, but just for ordinary folk in the public health system to go there and have all of those short treatments done that we currently need to go to Dunedin for.

”I was over the moon about that because I think our chances of getting a health board-funded hospital here in the medium-term are slim and none … so I think this is a fabulous alternative, at least for the medium-term.”

Queenstown Country Club land has been rumoured as a site, and developer Alastair Porter has suggested a hospital would be part of Remarkables Park.