Ru­ral health at risk of flat­line

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

and we must think in­no­va­tively and act differently to cre­ate a new, more flex­i­ble and bet­ter con­nected South­ern health sys­tem,’’ she said.

This played a cen­tral role in the creation of the Pri­mary and Com­mu­nity Strat­egy, which had been de­vel­oped with the in­ten­tion of im­prov­ing ser­vices for all parts of the dis­trict, and most def­i­nitely for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, Ge­stro said.

Health was one of the big win­ners in the Bud­get an­nounce­ment this week but what it means for ru­ral health ser­vices in the south is still un­clear.

South­ern Dis­trict Health Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Flem­ing said it was good news for the health board, as it went some way to recog­nis­ing the tremen­dous fi­nan­cial pres­sure all Dis­trict Health Boards were un­der.

‘‘There are still sig­nif­i­cant cost pres­sures within the health sys­tem, and this does not solve all the chal­lenges we face,’’ he said.

Although the in­crease in fund­ing raised hope in South­land com­mu­ni­ties that there might be a re­prieve for the likes of the Lums­den Ma­ter­nity Cen­tre, it was early days yet when it came to un­der­stand­ing what the im­pact of the bud­get would be.

‘‘We are yet to learn the de­tails of the an­nounce­ments, and there­fore are not yet in a position to say how it will im­pact ser­vices at South­ern DHB. This will be­come clearer in the com­ing weeks, and will be fac­tored into our plan­ning for 2018/19 and be­yond ac­cord­ingly,’’ Flem­ing said.

Invercargill-based Labour MP Liz Craig said health and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties were im­por­tant to Govern­ment, as should be ap­par­ent from the bud­get re­leased on Thurs­day.

The Govern­ment was mind­ful of the par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges in pro­vid­ing qual­ity health­care in large sparsely pop­u­lated com­mu­ni­ties like those here in the south, which was why it had es­tab­lished the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties port­fo­lio, she said.

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