Funding cuts will be dire for Dunstan
Affected communities need to understand, says health services chairman
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.