Growing problems with the Southern District Health Board's
''ageing infrastructure'' and the negative effects of
population-based funding were highlighted at a public meeting
More than 100 people attended the packed meeting, devoted to
a ''growing public health crisis'', at the Hunter Centre,
The meeting was organised by Dunedin Labour MPs Clare Curran,
who chaired the gathering, and Dr David Clark.
Participants heard that ageing infrastructure and continued
cost-cutting were having wide-ranging effects, including
water leaking into an operating theatre in wet weather, a
recent lengthy IT outage at Dunedin Hospital, planned cuts in
mental health beds, and growing work pressures in the
Labour health spokeswoman Annette King took issue with
aspects of the population-based funding formula faced by the
SDHB and said University of Otago Prof Robin Gauld had
earlier noted shortcomings in the formula.
Mrs King noted the SDHB covered the biggest geographical area
of any DHB in the country.
And she believed that pressures arising from the formula were
contributing strongly to the health board's financial
She indicated Labour would review the formula and make any
required changes, including to ensure that overall health
funding was more transparent and that regional funding was
being allocated fairly.
Mrs King said in an interview there was a need for the
Government to undertake a major upgrade and rebuild of
Dunedin Hospital, which was the last big hospital in the
country to be upgraded. She told the meeting there had been
''tremendous staff frustration'' and stress at the SDHB, as
it faced continuing pressures through underfunding.
And there was a climate of fear in the health sector, with
many people afraid to speak out for fear of losing funding or
''We are a first world country- and we want to ensure that we
have a first world health system,'' she said.
Several speakers said the SDHB was trying to do its best,
given strong financial pressures.
Max Reid, a former superintendent of the Methodist Mission in
Dunedin, said some elderly people in Invercargill were being
assessed for home-based support either by telephone by health
staff in Dunedin, or were being transported to Dunedin to be
assessed, before being returned to their homes.
But there were doubts about how well some older people could
hear on the telephone, and it was important for assessors to
visit each person's house to see their specific physical
circumstances, he said.
Comment also came from members of a health sector panel,
comprising Graham Roper, Max Reid, Andy Langford, University
of Otago senior lecturer and oncologist Dr Chris Jackson and
orthopaedic surgeon Associate Prof David Gwynne-Jones.