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Public awareness of the neurosurgery battle was lower in Southland than Otago, Southern District Health Board member Richard Thomson said at yesterday's hospital advisory committee in Invercargill.
Southland had "more to lose" than Otago.
The distance from Invercargill to Christchurch was double the journey of Kaitaia patients, the group with the longest journey for neurosurgery now.
Mr Thomson said the issue was one for the "press benches" as it was media coverage in Otago driving public awareness.
Committee chairman Paul Menzies said the neurosurgery issue was vitally important to Southlanders, and public awareness was lifting, with increased media coverage in recent days.