Hospital group meets minister

David Clark
David Clark
The Waitaki Community Hospital Action Group continues to hold fears for patients' safety and the welfare of staff at Oamaru Hospital, which they voiced at a meeting with Health Minister David Clark in Oamaru yesterday.

Members of the group met Dr Clark at his drop-in session at the Oamaru Public Library, where they outlined its main concerns over the controversial Waitaki District Health Services ''proposal for change'' document for the hospital, which the Waitaki District Council-controlled organisation adopted several weeks ago.

The proposal involved the reconfiguration of the hospital to improve efficiency, and a staffing restructure.

Waitaki Community Hospital Action Group chairwoman Dr Janice Clayton, who earlier this month met Ministry of Health representatives to discuss the group's concerns in more detail, said the meeting was constructive.

''The main themes of what were discussed were the safety issues that we're seeing in terms of the erosion of the staffing group and the safety issues that it's throwing up. We're worried about our staff, we're worried about our patients' safety.

''The other thing is ... the communication that we've undertaken to address these issues that haven't been responded to by any of the parties. That's Waitaki District Health Services Ltd, the council and the Southern DHB.

''We were encouraged to continue to apply pressure.''

Dr Clark declined to comment on the meeting when approached by the Otago Daily Times, saying it would be inappropriate for him to do so in his capacity as Minister of Health as the hospital was not governed by the Southern DHB.

Dr Clayton said the group ''was at an impasse'' at present, after its peaceful picket outside the hospital at Takaro Park on March 1, attended by about 100 people, and its protest march from the Oamaru Farmers' Market to the park on April 13 which drew 130 people.

At the march, Dr Clayton called for the resignation of Waitaki District Health Services chairman Chris Swann, who last week announced he would step down from the role at the end of June.

He told the Otago Daily Times calls for him to resign had not affected his decision.

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