Community meetings on hospital plan

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Waitaki District Health Services has called a series of public meetings to be held next month in response to public outcry generated by its proposed restructure at Oamaru Hospital.

Last week, the Otago Daily Times obtained a copy of a confidential "proposal of change" document distributed to staff that included a proposed staffing restructure and the reconfiguration of the hospital's layout to increase efficiency.

The document has caused a large amount of negative discussion around the community, particularly on social media platforms, which has caused public unease.

As a result, the Waitaki District Council-controlled company that owns and operates the hospital will hold community meetings on March 5 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, then the following day at 7.30am and 7pm.

All meetings will be held at the Oamaru Opera House Empire Room.

A statement from the company said management staff and board members "will discuss their plans to achieve clinical excellence and sustainable health service delivery in Oamaru including an overview and vision of the hospital and how the current changes will contribute to this".

Next month's meetings follow an earlier meeting in November at the Waitaki Boys' High School auditorium which was attended by 180 people, held when the company came under fire from the public for its food services review and the way it was communicated.

The hospital's kitchen has since closed and from January 14 meals have been prepared at Iona Enliven Care Home and Hospital.

A second meeting, led by Oamaru Hospital clinical director Dr Pragati Gautama, took place on January 29 and focused on rural hospitals and what people can expect from them.

Most recently about 150 people gathered at the Scottish Hall in Oamaru to air their concerns about the proposal to restructure the hospital, a meeting that became heated at times.

Topics included the process that staff had been given for consultation on the restructure proposal, communication with staff and the community by Waitaki District Health Services, the organisation's deficit, Southern DHB funding, the Observatory Retirement Village, and nurses' pay and redundancy options.

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