The Southern District Health Board is undertaking a
wide-reaching planning exercise for the next decade, which
will be used to help plan the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.
Chief executive Carole Heatly said the strategic plan was the
first since the Southern board formed in a merger four years
The public will be asked for feedback on the draft around
Ms Heatly hoped many people submitted feedback on the plan,
which was relevant because it helped shape health service
priorities in the South, including the rebuild.
The board needed a region-wide strategic plan anyway, but its
timing was ''fortuitous'' in that it fulfilled planning needs
for the proposed big-ticket project, Ms Heatly said in an
interview with the Otago Daily Times.
The board had to work out what services it needed in Dunedin,
including the number of medical and surgical beds required.
That entailed looking at the Otago and Southland district as
a whole, including the role of rural hospitals.
However, Ms Heatly said the make-up of services in Dunedin
was unlikely to change greatly.
A new hospital would have quite a different layout to meet
modern health standards, she said.
In future, more services would be provided close to people's
homes, but big procedures would always involve travel to main
''We don't want people to be thinking that they can have
cardiovascular surgery done in Oamaru, for example, because
''They'll always have to come in to big centres for the very
Asked if the board should address more urgent needs than
strategic planning, such as a reportedly year-long wait for
some ultrasound procedures, Ms Heatly said that was outside
the scope of the interview.
However, she said the board was working hard to improve
radiology, partly by using equipment in Dunstan and Oamaru.
''In the last two years, our waiting lists for diagnostics
and for surgery have improved significantly.
''People are being given more treatment and waiting less time
for it, and that includes access via our ED departments.''
Strategic health services plan project director Dr Pim Allen
said the board had interviewed GPs, non-government
organisations, rural hospitals, academics and primary care
workers about the region's health needs for the draft plan.
''There will be an overarching direction. This is a plan that
looks forward over 10 years or so,'' Dr Allen said.
''We're genuinely wanting input and advice and discussion
about the best use of resources to improve health across the
The board was determined to present the document in plain
English, as free as possible from health jargon, to enable
people to understand it and give feedback, Dr Allen said.