Wellsouth happier with 'hub and spoke'

Ian Macara
Ian Macara
Wellsouth chief executive Ian Macara says more information about the Southern District Health Board's (SDHB) proposed new model of healthcare has alleviated some concerns he previously had about the proposal.

However, he still has some worries about the timeframe of the roll-out.

Mr Macara was one of the SDHB team attending the first of a second round of public meetings about the proposal in the South yesterday.

The new model aims to shift more healthcare into the primary sector and develop a ''hub and spoke'' model of shared care, but has met with mixed reaction from health professionals.

At a previous public meeting about the proposal in Cromwell last October, Mr Macara said
he was ''excited'' about the proposal but ''a wee bit concerned''.

He said his board supported the proposals, but had been constrained by funding to deliver more primary health services.

Mr Macara said then the southern region faced a ''tsunami of long-term conditions'' from its ageing population, and in future people would have more complex conditions to deal with.

But, he wondered, if more services were needed, how additional infrastructure could be built.

Mr Macara said this week, ''the grounds have changed a little bit since then'' and many of his concerns had now been alleviated, following more consultation with clinicians.

The ''general consensus'' from health professionals spoken to, including GPs, was the SDHB's draft primary and community strategy and the accompanying action plan were ''the correct way to go'' for both patients and providers, Mr Macara said.

He said part of what had alleviated his concerns was that the SDHB had indicated increased funding to roll out the first stage of the new model in the 2018-19 financial year.

However, he still had concerns about the tight timeframe of the roll-out.

Wellsouth chairman and Dunedin GP Dr Doug Hill said there had been a ''great deal of interest'' and ''much positive input'' from GPs about the SDHB and Wellsouth having met last week.

The strategy had been developed with strong input from across the primary care sector, including patients and clinicians, plus widespread engagement with many other stakeholders.

''There is potentially much greater scope [with the new strategy] for self-determination for practices and communities to decide how their healthcare services are configured in order to meet the needs of their population.''

Cromwell GP Dr Greg White has spoken against the proposal, saying it was driven by corporate managers and there was no proof it would make any difference to the SDHB's budget or patients. Some other GPs voiced similar concerns to the Otago Daily Times.

But the SDHB's chief medical officer, Dr Nigel Millar, said consultation for the proposal was still continuing, and the new model was vital to better cater for Otago's growing and ageing population.

Public meetings about the strategy were held yesterday in Oamaru and Cromwell, and will be held today in Invercargill, Balclutha and Dunedin.


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