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Opinion piece prompts hospital fears

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 07:54 13/12/2012
hutt hospital
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

HALLOWED HALLS: Margaret Cousins put up a notice of motion, that "council expresses its confidence in and support for the Hutt Valley District Health Board, and for the retention of Hutt Hospital".

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There are concerns in Lower Hutt over the district health board forging closer links with Wairarapa and Wellington, with a councillor labelling it "a merger in all but name".

At a Hutt City Council meeting this week, councillor Margaret Cousins put up a notice of motion, that "council expresses its confidence in and support for the Hutt Valley District Health Board, and for the retention of Hutt Hospital".

The motion was to try to allay community fears that the hospital could be threatened with closure, she said.

The meeting heard those fears were heightened after an opinion piece by Peter Glensor, a member of Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley district health boards, was published in a community newspaper.

In October, plans to share services and management at Wellington's three district health boards were unveiled, under the 3DHB label.

In his column, Mr Glensor pointed to the 3DHB programme as an example of effective organisation change.

"Hospital services in the Hutt and Wairarapa will operate as a single unit. Collaboration between them and the Wellington and Kenepuru hospitals will ensure the best use of clinical resources," he wrote.

Fears over Hutt Hospital were "an unintended consequence" of the piece, Ms Cousins said.

Ken Laban, who is both a councillor and health board member, said while the three health boards were working more closely, "there is no suggestion whatsoever that Hutt Hospital will close".

However, councillor Max Shierlaw said there were concerns over how funds would be allocated: "This is a merger that is happening in all but name. If it's a question of marching in the streets, then perhaps we should because the community is going to be hit hard."

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