Healthcare hubs next service revamp phase

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming. Photo: ODT files
SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming. Photo: ODT files

The next stage of the revamp of the southern primary healthcare system is about to begin, as Alliance South seeks expressions of interest in developing community health hubs.

Alliance South, the partnership between the Southern District Health Board and WellSouth Primary Health Organisation, this week launched a Request For Information on the Government's tender website.

Hubs were a key element in the primary and community strategy released by both organisations last year.

It is envisaged they will amalgamate a range of healthcare services and providers on one site.

The strategy expected hubs would likely be established in Dunedin, Invercargill, Gore, Balclutha, Oamaru and Central Lakes.

"A Community Health Hub is our next move in the transformation of health services in the district and we are looking forward to getting others engaged in this important initiative," SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said.

"It is a significant step in advance of the new Dunedin Hospital and supports our goals of making healthcare more accessible while making best use of our resources."

Planners are still determining what services will be provided in the new $1.4billion hospital, but some clinics and some minor operations now delivered at Dunedin Hospital will instead be provided in the community.

As well as general practice, Alliance South expected services such as diagnostics, radiology, laboratories, outpatient clinics, district nursing services, physiotherapy and pharmacy could be among those provided at hubs.

Exactly what might be at each community health site would depend on which organisations respond to the RFI and what expertise and facilities they had or could build.

Mr Fleming said the RFI was a survey of interested parties to find out which investors and developers were interested in collaborating to build hubs, and what Alliance South needed to consider before making any commercial decisions about hubs.

"Another RFI seeking information from healthcare service providers about service delivery from these hubs may be issued in the future."

Any development would not be public private partnership, he said.

Since the release of the strategy last year several southern GP practices have become "healthcare homes" - a modern, integrated facility offering wider services.

Several of those are expected to be interested in becoming hubs; the people behind Te Kaika, the Ngai Tahu/University of Otago venture providing low cost care in Caversham, have openly said that was their ambition.

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