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An Invercargill pub will be transformed into Southland’s new charity hospital.

The Clifton Club Inn, off Armagh St, will be repurposed and turned into a day facility that would, initially, provide colonoscopies to patients to help cancer sufferers’ chances of survival.

The move, announced yesterday, followed the death of Blair Vining who had campaigned for cancer resources in the region.

The Inn, an Invercargill Licensing Trust building located near Southland Hospital, has been given to the charity.

Southland Charity Hospital Board chairman Dr Murray Pfeiffer said without the donation from ILT it would have had to raise another $2million for the community-funded facility.

“We’re so grateful on behalf of our future patients for this donation.”

The Clifton Club Inn which will soon be transformed into Southland’s charity hospital following a campaign by Blair and Melissa Vining (inset). Photo: Laura Smith & The New Zealand Herald
The Clifton Club Inn which will soon be transformed into Southland’s charity hospital following a campaign by Blair and Melissa Vining (inset). Photo: Laura Smith & The New Zealand Herald
ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay confirmed there would be no job losses and current staff would be reassigned to other roles at ILT establishments.

He said the Clifton Club Inn had been something of a community hub, but they had to look at the future of the business. ‘‘The reality is, the viability of the business was marginal at best’’.

Blair’s widow, Melissa Vining said the hospital would not only be a legacy for her late husband, but added to work that had gone into improving cancer care in New Zealand, which would continue.

“This is a true reflection of our Southland community, and the generosity of Southlanders.”

She said Blair would have been proud.

While there was no definite timeframe, they were working through the concept drawing stage and seeking tradesmen to help with the repurposing of the building. Ideas for the design would come from the Canterbury Charity Hospital.

One key message was that the service was not a replacement for Southern District Health Board services.

‘‘We’re hoping this will provide good data and facts on the need that is not being met,’’ Ms Vining said.

Volunteers would be essential to the hospital’s success.

‘‘With the decision of the Southland Charity Hospital Board to service the entire SDHB region, that volunteer base is going to be crucial to the long-term sustainability of the hospital.’’

People had been donating, fundraising and organising events to help fund the ongoing use of the facility, as operating costs were expected to be about $250,000 a year.

An example of community generosity was shown to Ms Vining only yesterday when an employee of Ascot Park Hotel approached her to say he and his partner had dedicated money to the hospital in their will.

‘‘He was a beautiful human ... it still moves me in unexpected situations like that. That’s an action that they have personally taken. It’s so in line with how Blair conducted himself in regards to contributing to something that’s bigger than yourself for no reason or credit.’’

She said Blair would be pleased there was action happening — ‘‘He would see it as Southlanders getting on and just doing the job we set out to do.’’

Anyone wanting to volunteer services can head to the Southland Charity Hospital website.

Colonoscopy capacity

  • 300 volunteers.
  • Colonoscopy facilities.
  • Annual estimated operating costs $250,000.
  • 100 medical staff volunteers.


Can no one else see some basic issues around this? Maybe I'm being a bit too precious.
Firstly, why are we all so accepting of the SDHB and governments inability to provide a reasonable level of care and treatment? Are we so inured to the idea the SDHB will never improve that we need to set up any number of non government hospitals? If so then lets just close the entire public hospital network now and save the death of a thousand cuts.

Secondly what is the ILT's charter? Is it really acceptable that someone has decided a business is a semi viable and the best use of a valuable public asset is to just gift the property to some random charity?
What limitations have been put in place to stop the charity hospital board just selling the property and pocketing the profits? Maybe not this year or with this board, but what about in 10 years time.

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