Hospital sacrifices services to retain acute inpatient capacity
A $200,000 budget cut for Dunstan Hospital provides a one-year moratorium on changes to outpatient services and gives the hospital board time to rethink its district health board contracts.
The hospital board struck an agreement last week with the beleaguered Southern District Health Board and this week released more details.
Dunstan board general manager Karyn Penno and chairman Russell McGeorge said it was a ‘‘huge relief’’ there would be no changes to outpatient services for now.
They expressed gratitude for staff sacrifices and community support that had allowed the board to buy time to work on a new contracting model.
They have also stressed that while there would not be the drastic reductions they had feared, significant savings would still be needed.
The $200,000 funding cut (2 per cent) is for the 2015/16 year.
Initially, the district health board had wanted to carve about $1 million from Dunstan’s budget (5 per cent) as part of an across-the-region attempt to rein a projected $42m deficit.
Hundreds of irked hospital supporters turned up to public meetings throughout Central Otago and more than 7500 signed a petition to the Minister of Health.
Hospital staff, facing the prospect of reduced bed numbers and possible job losses, are battling to keep their morale up.
Staff released a video on You Tube on Monday of a lip-sync song and dance routine explaining their dilemma and reassuring patients they are still there for them.
The hospital board has confirmed existing district health board contracts would roll over for 12 months and there would be no change to Dunstan Hospital’s outpatient clinics or funding, regardless of the outcome of the outpatient services review.
An entirely new contract approach would be adopted for 2016/17, which would include an annual contribution from the district health board to inflationary pressures and recognition of Dunstan’s population growth in the funding contract.
Penno said both parties had compromised during the ‘‘difficult negotiation’’.
‘‘[That] means there is a mixture of good and not-so-good in our agreement. It is really disappointing that we weren’t able to secure funding for the increasing demand for health services in our region. The funding reduction of $200,000 for this year is less than the SDHB wanted, but we didn’t want any reduction at all,’’ Penno said.
Penno confirmed that community services, particularly physiotherapy and community radiology, had borne the brunt of reductions to accommodate the funding cut.
‘‘Our community has been very clear that keeping our acute inpatient capacity was an absolute priority, and that is what we have focused on,’’ she said.