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.

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