Health authorities aware of needs

Te Whatu Ora is in the process of considering how to cater for the needs of Central Otago’s...
Te Whatu Ora is in the process of considering how to cater for the needs of Central Otago’s growing population, a representative says. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The government is aware Upper Clutha’s lack of after-hours healthcare is of "particular concern" to residents and is working on a solution, Te Whatu Ora have said.

In response to a request for comment by the Wānaka Sun for last week’s story on a proposed "stop gap" after hours healthcare service for the region, Tālis Liepins, Te Whatu Ora’s South Island regional manager for rural health, said the agency was in the process of considering how to cater for the needs of Central Otago’s growing population and "how best to deliver those services".

"We know that access to after-hours [and] urgent care services in Wanaka is of particular concern to the community and we are continuing to work with our partners on sustainable solutions for the Central Otago region, including with Central Otago Health Services Limited."

Central Otago Health Services Limited (COHSL), a community-owned, not-for-profit organisation that provides health services at Dunstan Hospital, has spent two years working on a proposal that would provide for an overnight clinical nurse specialist based in Upper Clutha.

Specialists operating under the service would receive remote support from a senior doctor based at Dunstan Hospital and would perform patient assessment and overnight observation, with the option to refer patients via ambulance to Dunstan Hospital if necessary.

COHSL chief executive Hayley Anderson said the proposal was with the Health NZ National Funding Board for consideration.

Te Whatu Ora did not respond to questions about the funding board’s process or the timeline for the implementation of any service its funding would help provide, but Mr Liepins said Te Whatu Ora was "committed to working with community leaders, iwi, and experts to design, deliver and commission sustainable services that meet the current and emerging healthcare needs of the local community".

"This needs to consider available workforce and financial resources and balance across other planning processes within Health NZ. Planning for the Otago-Southland area is part of our national, whole-of-system approach to delivering healthcare services."

Mr Liepins said the new rural after-hours telehealth service Ka Ora also became available to Central Otago in December.

In a newsletter sent to subscribers last week, community advocacy group Health Action Wānaka (HAW) encouraged readers to email Te Whatu Ora in favour of COHSL’s proposal, as it would serve as a short-term solution "while work continues to fund and deliver a sustainable after hours service that is comparable to other similarly sized towns in New Zealand".