Crunch time for WO Health
A funding crisis for West Otago Health has highlighted its desire to have parity with other regions for after hours care - nothing more, and nothing less, its chairman Allister Body says.
The Tapanui-based facility revealed this week that it was reaching crunch point in its ability to fund the after hours service for acute and emergency care.
Since its Southern District Health Board funding ran out in June, WOH has paid for this service itself, and by the end of this financial year will have spent $76,667.08 for a St John primary response in medical emergencies (Prime) nurse.
In 2015, it received a final payment from the DHB of $33,000, as ‘‘transitional funding’’ to prepare West Otago to use the Gore Health hub for acute and emergency care.
WOH has paid for 533 acute or emergency cases, 270 of which occurred out of office hours for the year ended March 2018. Of those call-outs, 123 resulted in the patient being sent to hospital, 63 within clinic hours and 60 after hours.
Also taking into consideration the region’s size, shape and topography, combined with an already stretched St John ambulance service, ‘‘we never believed for a second that a service based out of Gore was going to work,’’ Body said.
For him it also raised the question: What is a life worth?
‘‘Who wants to be in a position of having to ask that question,’’ he said.
The trust has enlisted the community’s help to urgently find more sustainable funding.
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker and Lawrence-based NZ First MP Mark Patterson have met with DHB chief executive Chris Fleming, who was unaware of the situation and would be looking into the delivery of healthcare services across the district.
Body said the community did not expect to have a superior after hours service compared to other communities.
‘‘We simply expect to have parity with other communities.
‘‘If after hours care is delivered via Gore, with no upgrade to the current Gore Hub model/capabilities, the concern is that outcomes for patients in acute and emergency situations in our area could be poorer than those closer to Gore.
‘‘This we believe is unfair and contrary to the strategic goals of the SDHB.’’
West Otago Health Trust chairman Allister Body.