Council lends WDHS $700,000

Cash-strapped Waitaki District Health Services will be bailed out to the tune of $700,000 by the Waitaki District Council, it was confirmed yesterday.

The council-controlled company that owns and operates Oamaru Hospital will get the cash injection in the form of a loan, which will be made available immediately.

The loan was signed off by the full council during a public excluded session on Tuesday.

The decision followed meetings between the council and the company’s board of directors to address a funding shortfall.

A statement released to media yesterday said the company was faced with "funding challenges in an already tight funding environment and a number of equipment issues that had to be addressed urgently".

The loan will "meet the immediate infrastructure-focused needs that will help the hospital to continue to make improvements in terms of safe and effective service delivery", the statement said.

Waitaki District Health Services chairman Paul Allison said the issue was not unique to the company.

"The health sector is not short of financial challenges. We appreciate the interim support from our shareholder, the Waitaki District Council, as we explore strategies and develop a plan that will provide a financially sustainable range of health services.

"This is likely to include the identification of options to generate new revenue streams as the long-term viability and sustainability of the company is critical."

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the council would continue to push for more Southern District Health Board funding for the hospital.

"The funding challenges faced by the health sector are well known.

"This is particularly true for smaller rural centres where ... recruiting and retaining staff in highly competitive ... markets is proving increasingly difficult."

The statement said there was a need to "create a more sustainable match between the service the community wants and what can be delivered with the funding that is available".


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