Healthcare a hot topic
Modern healthcare does not depend on hospital beds anymore, National Waitaki candidate and list MP Jacqui Dean says.
Three of the five Waitaki electorate candidates have said Oamaru Hospital does not have enough funding to operate properly, but Dean said the hospital’s new model of care, which had many people receiving care at home, should continue.
Candidates were asked to talk about the hospital’s funding at a meet the candidates meeting in Oamaru on Saturday afternoon.
The meeting, chaired by Grey Power North Otago, was attended by about 40 people.
Labour Waitaki candidate Zelie Allan said she had heard several horror stories about long waits for ambulances and long waiting lists for the hospital.
She said when beds were full at the Oamaru Hospital, GPs ‘‘are told not to refer to the Oamaru Hospital’’.
‘‘But when it [Oamaru] is in bedlock, often Dunedin is also full. We don’t have enough funding at this point. It has been argued the funding formula is wrong and also with surrounding hospitals.
‘‘We need to maintain basic hospitals such as Oamaru, as well as Dunstan and Maniototo. I have secured $1m funding for Maniototo Hospital.’’
What was described as a lack of funding seen in several rural hospitals was because of the Government’s $2 billion deficit in health funding, she said. Dean said Labour owed it to New Zealanders to be honest with them. She said there was not a $2 billion deficit in health funding.
‘‘There are 500 people in Oamaru receiving home-based care.
‘‘We need to do more like that to fix the health problem of Oamaru. It is going through a time of constraint. The way to fix it is to get stuck in.’’
NZ First Waitaki candidate and former Waitaki mayor Alex Familton said Oamaru Hospital was one of the best in New Zealand and while he was mayor it was ‘‘top of performance for its size’’.
‘‘We are in the middle of a fight to keep that hospital how it is. We have an option that could be set up to fail all of us.’’
He took aim at the new model of care laid out by Waitaki District Health Services in August which showed increased telemedicine care and the hospital being used for urgent care.
‘‘What it says is the more people at home the better, the less at the hospital the better. The funding model is broken and needs to be changed. We need more money.’’
Green Party Dunedin South candidate Shane Gallagher said the Greens, Labour and Grey Power had made an inquiry into aged health care and had a pack of solutions.
A hospital was only one part of healthcare solutions and what the community required from the hospital changed with time, he said.
He said the recently completed Observatory Retirement Village provided a mixture of high and low intensive care while it worked with Oamaru Hospital’s new focus on urgent care.
‘‘Oamaru is the best place for the health needs of Oamaru and the region. We have expertise and knowledge to know what we need. Dunedin and Oamaru face similar problems.’’
Democrats for Social Credit Waitaki candidate Hessel Van Wieran said he was worried at the lack of detail in news reports on what was going to happen with healthcare in the electorate.