Board hears trust bid

A "hospitable" Southland District Health Board this week heard the Wakatipu Health Trust's presentation on taking over ownership and management of Queenstown's underdeveloped Lakes District Hospital.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times after Thursday's meeting, trust founding chairwoman Maria Cole said while the board had listened to the "common-sense proposal", no decisions had been made yet.

Her presentation outlined the benefits of bringing the Lakes District Hospital "into line with all the other regional hospitals that have a high degree of community ownership [and] management . . . Dunstan, Oamaru, Balclutha and Gore".

There were also future possibilities of public-private partnerships and resource sharing between potential private facilities and the public service.

In her speech, Mrs Cole gave the board a vision of a modernised and upgraded hospital offering enhanced accident and emergency services, better diagnostic services, day surgery, more outpatient clinics and improved long-term elderly care facilities.

Mrs Cole suggested a project team of Otago and Southland DHB regional chief executive Brian Rousseau, trust acting chairman Prof Richard Seddon, Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive officer Duncan Field and herself as the project leader.

The initial stages of the project would include reviewing the Dunstan Hospital situation and seeing how that could work in Queenstown, evaluating existing buildings, and consulting the community and stakeholder groups.

While she had not been given an answer from the board yet, Mrs Cole said if the decision was positive things would move swiftly.

"It's not up to me to second guess the board . . . [but as soon as given approval] we will commence the project.

"It is a big challenge . . . I think it is the most significant thing in public health that has occurred in Queenstown."

Approached for comment, Mr Rousseau said the trust had made a good presentation which would be carefully considered, taking into account the wider implications.

Matters to be considered included where Queenstown general practitioner services would fit and discussions between the Queenstown Medical Centre and Southern Cross regarding elective hospital services, as well as district health board work on hospital capacity across the Otago-Southland region for the next 20 years.

Other stakeholders, including unions, would also have to be considered.

Planning work on hospital capacity was fairly well advanced and he hoped a response to the proposal could be made in June.


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