Fund­ing cuts will be dire for Dun­stan

Af­fected com­mu­ni­ties need to un­der­stand, says health ser­vices chair­man

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN ‘Health Care is all about the money’. See page 15.

A Cen­tral Otago health provider is ral­ly­ing the com­mu­nity to fight fund­ing cuts to health ser­vices.

Cen­tral Otago Health Ser­vices Limited chair­man Rus­sell McGe­orge said the com­mu­ni­ty­owned, not-for-profit com­pany which runs health ser­vices out of Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal, was or­gan­is­ing public meet­ings for later this month to dis­cuss the pro­posed fund­ing cuts and its im­pact on health ser­vices.

The South­ern Dis­trict Health Board had con­firmed to the com­pany that:

It will re­ceive no ad­di­tional SDHB fund­ing for the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year to cover in­creased ser­vices re­sult­ing from the strong in­land pop­u­la­tion growth. Its SDHB fund­ing for the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year will be cut by five per cent from the fund­ing pro­vided for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. Fur­ther econ­omy mea­sures are likely later in the year.

‘‘Th­ese de­ci­sions by the SDHB mean that Dun­stan must re­move ap­prox­i­mately $1 mil­lion (10 per cent) from its bud­get for the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year. This is dou­ble the im­pact of the SDHB’s econ­omy mea­sures on the other ru­ral hos­pi­tals in the South­ern dis­trict.’’

To op­er­ate within this re­duced fund­ing level the com­pany would have to sub­stan­tially re­duce the level of ser­vices pro­vided; likely have to close 25 to 50 per cent of the in­pa­tient beds; and make cor­re­spond­ing staff re­duc­tions, he said.

‘‘Th­ese re­duc­tions to our ser­vices will have a strong im­pact on the com­mu­ni­ties we serve. Sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of over­flow pa­tients from Dun­stan will have to be trans­ferred on a daily ba­sis to Dunedin, In­ver­cargill, or other ru­ral hos­pi­tals in the South­ern Dis­trict. Out­pa­tient ser­vices are likely to be af­fected in the later ad­di­tional econ­omy mea­sures. The board and man­age­ment of COHSL have made strong rep­re­sen­ta­tions both to the SDHB’s se­nior man­age­ment and to the chair­man of the SDHB on the unique sit­u­a­tion that Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal faces, but the Re­duced fund­ing will force Cen­tral Otago Health Ser­vices to sub­stan­tially re­duce the level of ser­vices pro­vided, close 25 to 50 per cent of the in­pa­tient beds and make cor­re­spond­ing staff re­duc­tions. SDHB has not changed its po­si­tion on our fund­ing. It has re­cently con­firmed the first round of econ­omy mea­sures in writ­ing to us.

‘‘The cuts to ser­vices we will have to make are not a one of­fevent, but will per­ma­nently re­set the ser­vices avail­able from Dun­stan to a new lower level.’’

The COHSL board was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned the SDHB’s fund­ing cuts were ar­bi­trary and did not ad­dress the ar­eas of the SDHB’s op­er­a­tions caus­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s per­sis­tent deficits, and fu­ture ad­di­tional fund­ing cuts could be re­quired, he said.

‘‘Given the heavy im­pact of the SDHB’s de­ci­sions on Dun­stan, and as a con­se­quence on the Cen­tral Otago and Up­per Clutha com­mu­ni­ties, COHSL’s board has ar­ranged public meet­ings to in­form the com­mu­ni­ties and hold dis­cus­sions on the fund­ing cuts.’’

The SDHB had been in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the public meet­ings to cover the back­ground to, and de­tails of the planned fund­ing cuts, he said.

‘‘COHSL will dis­cuss the strong growth in in­pa­tient num­bers at the hos­pi­tal and the im­pact of the fund­ing cuts. A pe­ti­tion to the SDHB will be avail­able for sign­ing at the meet­ings.

‘‘We strongly urge the res­i­dents in the com­mu­ni­ties served by Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal to at­tend one of the public meet­ings to un­der­stand what the SDHB’s fund­ing cuts will mean for the hos­pi­tal and the com­mu­nity, and to pro­vide feed­back to both the SDHB and COHSL.’’ ◗

What: Health ser­vices fund­ing cuts public meet­ings

Where and When: Alexan­dra: 7:30pm May 20, Alexan­dra Com­mu­nity Theatre, Skird St; Cromwell: 7:30pm May 21, Cromwell Pres­by­te­rian Church, El­speth St; Wanaka: 7:30pm May 26, Main Au­di­to­rium, Lake Wanaka Cen­tre

Cen­tral Otago Health Ser­vices chair­man Rus­sell McGe­orge.

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