Health­care a hot topic

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - RYAN DUNLOP

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.

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