Wakatipu lobby group’s legal threat over Southern DHB healthcare fix


A Wakatipu lobby group is threatening authorities with court action over a radical new Queens-town health fix. 

Wakatipu Health Trust slams last week’s announcement by Southern District Health Board chief executive Brian Rousseau of his vision for Wakatipu healthcare – a mix of GP and clinical options with hospital services at a single site. 

No decision has been made on the location of such a one-stop shop – dubbed an Integrated Family Health Centre. Options are Frankton’s existing hospital, needing redevelopment, or a new health facility planned by Remarkables Park and the 14-doctor Queenstown Medical Centre. 

If it’s the latter, the hospital could be sold with no guarantee Queenstown will benefit from the proceeds. 

Lobby group the Wakatipu Health Trust – agitating for improved services since last year – has written to all SDHB members warning of potential High Court action, Mountain Scene can reveal. 

WHT chair Craig Benington accuses SDHB of no community consultation on the possible relocation of hospital services to the planned Remarkables Park centre. 

“If the board chooses to adopt this recommendation without detailed consultation, the Trust’s advice is that an application for judicial redress to set aside such a decision could be considered,” he writes. 

Benington adds the move appears “predetermined”, citing the timing of announcements. 

Rousseau’s “one-stop shop” bombshell at 2pm last Thursday outlined a site including GPs, walk-in and nurse-led clinics, pharmacists, physiotherapists plus services for the “most urgent of hospital care”. 

Within hours, Remarkables Park – developer of Frankton’s retail and residential hub – issued a statement that it and QMC are pushing ahead with a multi-million dollar modern health facility. 

It will cover 3200sq m with potential to double – and offer pharmacy and physiotherapy space, radiology services, observation beds, an accident and emergency clinic plus operating theatre. 

“It is simply too coincidental,” Benington writes. 

“For such a major development to proceed at Remarkables Park without any commercial surety… beggars belief.” 

Rousseau, responding to WHT’s claims yesterday, says he’s been open about prior discussions with Remarkables Park and QMC to better understand their plans and opportunities to work together. 

“I believe it was me making my recommendation public on Thursday that triggered the press release from Remarkables Park,” Rousseau says. 

“The DHB has not yet completed a financial analysis of the two [site] options, nor approved the recommendation through the required processes so how can it possibly be a ‘fait accompli’?” 

The board will consider whether further public consultation is necessary once it’s further explored the two site options and considered feedback from its medical staff, he says. 

Asked about the court threat, Rousseau says his board will respond as required. 

SDHB’s current operating deficit is about $15 million – and it’s under huge pressure from Health Minister Tony Ryall to balance its books.