Dunedin Hospital senior radiation therapist Janine Ingham shows Health Minister Tony Ryall the new linear accelerator at Dunedin Hospital. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Tony Ryall says public investment in health services in
Dunedin is ''quite good'', but the Government is not getting
The Southern District Health Board had been able to hire 160
extra doctors and nurses because of funding increases.
The extra staffing needed to be taken into account in the
current debate about the South losing a range of public
''It's disappointing that in this whole debate there's been
no reference to the fact that there have been 160 extra
medical and nursing positions created at Southern since
Mr Ryall was in Dunedin yesterday to open a $6.3 million
linear accelerator at Dunedin Hospital. The Varian Truebeam
linear accelerator is expected to boost cancer treatment
capacity by about 20%. It is one of three linear accelerators
at Dunedin Hospital, and replaces a machine that was 18 years
Requests for further investment at Dunedin Hospital - such as
a long awaited upgrade to the gastroenterology facility -
would be considered alongside the needs of other parts of New
''I think your attitude is that you think it's a problem
[lack of investment] with our Government. What I'm saying is,
actually, it's tough times. The priority has been
There was also need for major capital spending on Grey Base
Hospital in Greymouth.
He pointed to the $24.4 million capital works at Dunedin and
Wakari Hospitals signed off in 2010, funding multiple
projects, including a new paediatrics/neonatal intensive care
Money was ''raining down'' in budgets under the last Labour
government, and questions should be asked about Labour's
investment in Southern health during its nine years in power,
Asked if patients should blame Michael Swann if they could
not access services, he said the massive fraud undoubtedly
extracted a lot of money from the local health system.
''Certainly, services must have been affected.''
He refused to comment on Mr Swann's release, saying it was a
Health indicators such as access to specialists and elective
surgery showed patients here had better access to services
than in the past, he said. The health board still faced
challenges getting itself out of deficit.
Mr Ryall said the challenge of health funding was allocating
money through the country when some areas had a growing
population, some were stable, and others, mainly in the South
Island, were ''depopulating''.
Everywhere he went, health boards complained they did not get
a fair deal from the population-based funding formula, which
made him think it was getting things about right.
He could not speculate on how many jobs would go if Dunedin
Hospital's kitchen was downgraded, which was being considered
under a Health Benefits Ltd proposal, but a lot of the food
would still need to be prepared locally, he said.