$1m for Dunstan scanner

Netting a $1 million grant for a CT scanner at Dunstan Hospital was just like winning the lottery - only better.

That was the response yesterday from the group which runs the hospital, after the Central Lakes Trust approved the donation.

"Without this grant, we couldn't contemplate getting a CT scanner at Dunstan, it's as simple as that," Central Otago Health Services chairman Russell McGeorge said.

"We've had lots of encouragement to get this far, but we were dependent on getting such a grant, so we're enormously grateful for the trust's support."

After several months of debate about the best location for a scanner to serve the wider Central Otago area, the Southern District Health Board decided in June to opt for a staged development. One scanner should be installed at Dunstan as soon as possible and the second one at Lakes District Hospital within two years once details of ownership and funding were sorted out, it said.

"This has been a topic of discussion across the region for quite some time and, in our view, the public have identified this as a high priority for the region and it will directly benefit many of the local residents," trust chief executive Paul Allison said.

The grant will cover the full cost of the equipment and a long-term maintenance contract.

Trust chairman Sir Eion Edgar said it was a relatively easy decision for the trust.

"We realise some additional community fundraising will be required to realise the project, particularly for the building alterations, but we hope that our $1 million grant will be the helping hand that now makes this project a reality."

Mr McGeorge said the equipment would be sourced from Europe and an order would be placed in early December. About $300,000 was needed to cover building alterations and support services. The scanner should be installed by March.

Community groups had been making unsolicited donations since the board's decision was announced and Lions and Rotary clubs in the Central Otago area would join forces next year to raise funds for the alterations, he said.

Operational funding was likely to be covered by the health board and private users.

Central Otago Health Incorporated is the sole shareholder of the health company. Its chairwoman, Ainsley Webb, of Cromwell, said the support from the community for the hospital was "huge".

There was much jubilation at the news of the trust's donation, she said.

Mr Allison said the "door was open" for the proponents of the Queenstown-based scanner to approach the trust for funding.

"That's something we'd consider on its merits at the time. Obviously, we'll be waiting and seeing what the evidence is of the need for another one, once this one is operating, but the door is certainly open for a future approach."