SDHB in favour of hospital restructure

Oamaru Hospital
Oamaru Hospital
The Southern District Health Board has thrown its support behind a controversial Waitaki District Health Services restructuring proposal for Oamaru Hospital.

In February, 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 much discussion in the community and has caused public unease.

As a result, the Waitaki Community Action Hospital group was formed, made up of about 20 people, which describes itself as a "outcomes-focused independent action group".

In mid-February the group voiced its concerns about the proposal to the board, the main provider of funding for services to the Waitaki District Council-controlled company.

They included a request for the proposal be frozen in lieu of an independent review into funding levels, and the full extent of rural adjustment funding for Waitaki.

Waitaki Community Hospital Action Group chairwoman Dr Janice Clayton said in response, the board assured it the company was being funded correctly and that it supported the proposal.

That stance was confirmed yesterday by Southern District Health Board executive director of strategy, primary and community Lisa Gestro.

"The SDHB"s primary concern is the provision and delivery of those services to patients in a manner which is clinically safe and effective. From the SDHB"s perspective, as long as contractural parameters are met in terms of safety and quality, it remains the business of WDHS in terms of how they structure and organise themselves to meet those requirements.

"In recent years, the hospital has undergone a range of reviews aimed at reorienting its services with contemporary expectations and practices, including a wide-reaching community consultation undertaken with our support in 2016. However, these recommendations were not implemented. We understand that the changes are aimed at taking clearer steps to realise this vision and we would support this direction."

She said the board had "not been directly involved" in the proposal, but remained "closely interested" in its outcome.

It would not affect future funding negotiations, she said.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said the board"s support of the proposal had boosted her confidence in it, but would continue to advocate on behalf of the community.

"I will continue to question WDHS in every step of their planned restructure and will hold them to account on their promises to provide a fair transition to a new model of health delivery."

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