Health watchdog to continue

Queenstown's health watchdog has decided to continue to oversee progress on the redevelopment of the Lakes District Hospital campus.

Minutes of the last three meetings of the Wakatipu Health Reference Group, requested by the Otago Daily Times, show chairwoman and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden advised fellow members in February the group had exceeded its two-year term, after being established as one of the recommendations of the National Health Board and tasked with monitoring the delivery of the other 20 recommendations.

More than half of the objectives have been achieved.

Ms van Uden said it was an appropriate time to consider the status of the group and whether it should continue.

''She noted that frustration over the lack of progress with the Lakes District Hospital campus redevelopment had been prevalent in the group's recent meetings,'' the meeting minutes said.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly, in an update to the group on the campus' progress, said discussions with potential partner health insurer Southern Cross continued.

A finished health profile was due to be made public after the April board meeting. The profile showed the population in the 0-10 age group in the Queenstown area was growing more quickly than anywhere else in the region.

While the number of older people was not growing at such a high rate, there was an increasing tendency for them to remain in the area, meaning there would be a greater need for services for the elderly, the profile said.

Group member Martin Hawes said the hospital redevelopment was foremost in the community's mind in terms of advancing Wakatipu health services, the minutes recorded.

Mr Hawes was concerned about its ''very slow rate of progress'' and the implication several months previously the development was ''a certainty'', while it was clear by the group's meeting in February the necessary investigatory work had not been done.

National Health Board acting national director Michael Hundleby told the health reference group the slow progress was not uncommon with hospital developments. Progress had been complicated by the fact the redevelopment did not fully demonstrate the elements of a successful business case, he said.

Although the group had reached the end of its original tenure, members agreed there was value in the group continuing, especially in light of reports Southern Cross was close to providing a final response on the hospital redevelopment.