Dunedin’s new hospital could undermine specialist services in Southland

Access to healthcare is a big issue across the south. We don’t have enough specialist services and resources are often focussed on the wrong places. I fear that Dunedin’s new hospital could compound these problems.

The government is investing $1.4 billion in the new Dunedin hospital – the most expensive hospital build in New Zealand’s history. With such a hefty price tag, the government will be expecting a significant return from its investment. The worry for me is that this return may come at the expense of the long-term provision of some specialist services at Southland Hospital.

Keeping such a big new hospital in Dunedin up and running won’t be cheap, particularly for a DHB that is already in financial deficit. The Southern DHB may be pressured by the government to take the easy option and cut costs by trimming services at Southland hospital.

Southlanders and Queenstowners need strong representation to stop this from happening.

We don’t want to find we are in a position where health services in Southland are scaled back because it is deemed more convenient to treat people at Dunedin’s new hospital.

In a recent post I outlined that an important part of any health system is ensuring outcomes are fair and just.

We want to make sure that our health system delivers the same health and wellbeing outcomes to all people no matter where they live.

Further undermining of health services at Southland Hospital in favour providing the services in Dunedin would be discriminatory.

Health equity is about providing services closer to home with well-designed and integrated pathways to take people through our health system.

Locating services three hours up the road is not equity.

Trips away for treatment create undue stress for patients – entailing significant time away from home comforts and support networks. Additional time off work for treatment also places a greater financial burden on the patient and their family. The difficulty in accessing treatment raises the risk of some not travelling and missing out altogether.

As a DHB representative for the Southland constituency I will advocate strongly to ensure Dunedin’s new hospital does not put us on a slippery slope to cutbacks at Southland Hospital.

Let’s make health happen.

Vote #1 Benje Patterson for Southern DHB

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Authorised by Benje Patterson, 5 Ashenhurst Way, Lower Shotover, Queenstown.