The original version of this article was written for the Central Line series but not submitted.
It's included here for historical reasons. Note the date.
Friday, December 15, 2000
Why aren't we marching on Wellington?
I can't understand why all of Central Otago seems to be so relaxed about what's happening (and what might soon happen) with our health services!
Everywhere else in Otago (and in most of Southland) communities have new or nearly new health facilities – hospitals mostly – that they own and control themselves. In our immediate neighbourhood Waitaki people have a brand new, purpose-built, fully-equipped, locally owned and managed hospital. In Clutha, exactly the same.
In Central? An old and run-down building, with no money for maintenance, and local control in name only. Don't get we wrong – the team at Dunstan are providing an excellent service, they've made great strides over the past few years and our services are better than they have ever been.
But we don't control the assets, and we're being told that from next year, we'll be back under a new district health board's wing. That's where we were ten years ago, and the result was that for every dollar spent on health care in this district, two dollars was spent in Waitaki, and two dollars in Clutha. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.
For reasons that no-one can explain, Central Otago has a far lower level of investment in health facilities that the rest of southern New Zealand, and that does have an impact on the services that can be provided to Central Otago people. That should be put right. Will it be? Your guess is as good as mine, but the recent history is not encouraging.
What about the future? Is the reconstituted board going to fund a new hospital in Central? I don't think so – they have enough trouble maintaining minimum standards in Dunedin Hospital. We're a long way away. Will the difference between Central and the rest of Otago get larger or smaller? Make your own judgement, but in my view we're on the back tit now, and going backwards.
I can't understand why we're not marching on Wellington.
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