SDHB criticised over Oamaru restructure

David Perez
David Perez
Criticism of how the controversial restructure at Oamaru Hospital was handled has again been aired, this time at a Southern District Health Board presentation in North Otago.

Pat Robertson, of Oamaru, accused the health board of showing a "lack of respect'' for those affected by this year's staffing restructure at the hospital, which also included the reconfiguration of its layout to increase efficiency.

She pleaded for the health board to show it valued "loyal, hard-working'' staff and the work they had done at the hospital, a plea that drew a round of applause.

The district health board's commissioner team of commissioner Cathy Grant, deputy commissioners Dr David Perez and Richard Thomson, chief executive Chris Fleming and executive director of strategy, primary and community Lisa Gestro all spoke at the information session at the Oamaru Opera House.

They were there to update the public on recent developments at the health board and the next steps for healthcare in its district.

After the roughly hour-long session Mr Fleming took questions from the audience, which numbered about 40.

Thelma Beer, of Maheno, shared a similar sentiment and claimed more than 30 experienced nursing staff had left the hospital and the board had showed a lack of concern for the welfare of present staff.

She, along with Waitaki Community Hospital Action Group chairwoman Janice Clayton, called for the health board to apologise to those staff and the public.

While Mr Fleming acknowledged the restructure was "very difficult'' for staff, he said he was "confident it was running on the right path''.

Earlier, the health board explained how the future of health services in the district may look.

Dr Perez said the healthcare home model, which he described as a "high-functioning general practice'' had been operating in Oamaru at the North End Health Centre and its satellite branch Junction Doctors for several months, and had made a "very good start''.

The model involves greater use of technology by patients to access information, and more integration of health services at GP clinics.

It was likely other practices would become involved in the initiative in the future, in addition to a single "hub'', likely based at Oamaru Hospital, which would "contain most of the services that should be delivered across the region''.

Mr Thomson said the health board's plan for North Otago was to make primary healthcare more accessible through the homes; improve booking systems for patients travelling to Dunedin; develop the telemedicine system further; improve the working relationship with rural hospitals in general and develop a more integrated healthcare system in the area.

A session was being held in Queenstown today.

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