Private hospital on way for Queenstown?

Andrew Blair.
Andrew Blair.
Plans are well advanced for an independent hospital for Queenstown - and those behind it are not looking for any national funding.

Capital and Coast District Health Board chairman and former Dunedin Hospital rebuild Southern Partnership Group chairman Andrew Blair said he had ''worked quietly'' for the past six months with Southern Cross Hospitals on establishing an ''independent surgical hospital'' in the resort, further details of which should be available ''within the next couple of months''.

Mr Blair, who has recently bought a property in Arrowtown, said the hospital would provide services to the Queenstown Lakes-Central Otago region, and complement services provided by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) and other healthcare providers.

He was working with Southern Cross, a not-for-profit entity, and other parties to finalise a joint venture.

Unlike other proposals, he did ''not intend demanding the support of Government, or the SDHB, or ACC''.

''I do not believe that is necessary.

''Having said that ... we will be happy to work with the DHB to facilitate publicly-funded surgery being provided from our proposed facility, if they want that.''

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said the board would look for ''any opportunity'' that was cost-effective and worked to improve services for the population.

''We are running tight on capacity at Dunedin Hospital and are regularly outsourcing and outplacing volumes within the private sector.

''It therefore makes sense if there is capacity developed in other parts of our district that we look closely at the opportunity this may present us.''

Mr Blair said the long-mooted Remarkables Park health campus was a location option, ''but not the only one''.

''There are other sites and other partners who Southern Cross may end up working with.''

Mr Blair said he would not divulge who might partner with Southern Cross, what it might cost, or where it might be until those matters had been ''fully agreed''.

''In my view the region has unfairly had its hopes raised too many times in the past.

''For now I am under-promising, but I remain confident that with the confirmed commitment of Southern Cross and the right JV partners that we will deliver.''

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said yesterday it was an ''outstanding solution'' for the district and had discussed it with the SDHB and Minister of Health David Clark.

''I think that our chances of getting the DHB to build a new hospital in our district in the medium term are slim and none.

''I think this is an excellent solution, and I'm supportive of it, provided the DHB fund public patients through it.''

Mr Boult said a ''nice precedent'' had been set by the DHB in Dunedin, where it funded public patients at Mercy Hospital.

''What I did not want was a private hospital which served the needs of those who could pay for it, or had medical insurance, and nobody else.''


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