Wakatipu’s staunchest health battlers are disbanding partly because Southern District Health Board refuses to deal with them, their founding member says.
Wakatipu Health Trust, which successfully fought for change over local health woes, last week announced it will fold after recent recommendations by the National Health Board.
Trust founder Maria Cole tells Mountain Scene that one of the reasons they’re handing over their assets to a new community group – led by Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden – is because “the DHB doesn’t want to talk to us”.
“The DHB has indicated to me via the chair [Joe Butterfield] that he doesn’t want to have dialogue with the trust and is only interested in dealing with the mayor’s group.
“We felt we were boxed into a corner. It was a consideration amongst a range of factors and ultimately we thought it was time to pass on the baton.”
One of the NHB’s recommendations for future local healthcare is Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Trust and the Wakatipu Health Governance Reference Group set up a “community reference group” – which SDHB commits to engaging with. Van Uden’s group would effectively double up on what her trust was doing already, Cole says.
“Basically, one group has status and the other hasn’t. It would be a duplication of groups that would have overlapping agendas.”
Cole remains positive about the future group even though trustees have been denied positions on the new group – they’ve been told they can stand as community representatives, she adds.
“No trustee is under consideration for a position of community representation.”
SHDB chairman Butterfield says: “To say that we are refusing to work with the trust overstates the position. [The NHB’s] expert panel recommended a way forward for Southern DHB to communicate with the community and we are doing so. Inevitably that means we will deal with the community reference group as the report recommends.”