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Our huge news this month has been the announcement of the site of the new Dunedin Hospital, making this exciting project – that will serve the whole district far beyond Dunedin – even more of a reality.
The site is an excellent result for the health community. Its central location is accessible, and supports our close relationship with the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic. I do want to acknowledge the valuable input from the local advisory group, and their integral role in making this location a success.
Importantly, it also gives the project valuable breathing space by removing the concerns around space constraints that might have been possible with a central city location. We know that as health care changes, flexibility and the ability to adapt to new developments will be essential.
Most of all, it means we can move ahead more meaningfully in shaping our wider health services right across the district.
A hospital is just one piece of the puzzle – just as important is how we support people to stay well, and receive care closer to home, knowing that those secondary and tertiary services that need to be delivered in a hospital setting will be there when they need them.
We have taken steps in this direction, through the roll out of electronic health records, and increasing uptake of virtual health consultations – reducing the need to travel for specialist appointments.
We are progressing with the implementation of the primary and community care strategy, and look forward to working with GP practices that have expressed interest in becoming Health Care Homes – with the benefits this brings to their patients in terms of more flexible hours, options for consultations, and more.
Focusing in these areas, while having a longer term view, means we can begin to enjoy the benefits of a redesigned health system long before the opening of the new hospital.
We look forward to continuing to share with you further progress in the months and years ahead.