Focus on future health needs

Vanessa van Uden
Vanessa van Uden
The Southern District Health Board will today be asked to endorse the development of a health campus at the Lakes District Hospital site in Queenstown, designed to meet the future needs of the resort.

The board will discuss the report prepared by DHB planning and funding executive director Sandra Boardman at its meeting in Dunedin.

The report said investigations were under way to transform the Lakes District Hospital site into a ''comprehensive health campus'', and the board was being asked to endorse management seeking approval from the Minister of Health for the establishment of a public-private partnership on Crown land.

In 2009, the Otago Daily Times reported the Government was advocating a public-private partnership deal for Lakes District Hospital, and at that time it was reported health insurer Southern Cross or Ngai Tahu were potential partners.

Today, the board will be asked to discuss with Southern Cross the level of fixed costs the DHB would accept to support a surgical facility on site; and to endorse the development of a health campus for the resort, ''irrespective of Southern Cross involvement''.

Wakatipu Health Reference Group chairwoman and Queenstown Lakes mayor Vanessa van Uden said the recommendations were ''a step in the right direction''.

''There are no signed pieces of paper, but it's really encouraging it [the DHB] is demonstrating a commitment to [progressing the project].

The report said the transformation into a health campus would require capital investment, not just for new facilities.

It estimated the cost of ''backlog maintenance'' was $2.5 million and the cost of bringing the facility up to present building code compliance was likely to be the same as the cost of a new facility.

A 2014 health profile found by 2034 there was likely to be a 36% population increase in the resort - from 19,400 to 26,400 - the highest projected increase in the Southern DHB area.

The projected increase in people aged 45 and over would increase demand for healthcare services for older residents. That demand was likely to include palliative care, home and community support services, age-related residential care and surgery.

The report to the DHB said Bupa - an international healthcare group - had shown an interest in expanding the rest-home, hospital and respite carer support services and the future development of dementia care.

Consolidating primary and community services for children on a single health campus would provide a ''one-stop shop'' for families, help with peer support for practitioners working with children and encourage co-location of social services.

Investigations were under way into integrating community mental health facilities at the site.

Also being investigated are options for elective surgery done through the public-private partnership.