Hope has confidence in Wairau

Last updated 10:10 22/11/2012

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Nelson Marlborough District Health Board elected member Gerald Hope, of Blenheim, says he has full confidence in Wairau Hospital and would happy to be treated there.

Mr Hope, who chairs a board committee, said procedures for dealing with a doctor who stood down after a death at the hospital in May were slow.

However, the board was taking action to ensure the Blenheim hospital was safe during investigations, including employing a locum to pick up his workload. This was costly, but essential, when the board was running a deficit, he said.

The doctor was still on full pay.

"When we are carrying two salaries, which is not budgeted for, there will be a deficit," he said.

"At the end of the day, this is just a small percentage of the operating budget."

The Marlborough Express asked the board on Tuesday whether residents could feel confident about being treated at Wairau Hospital, following confirmation the police are investigating a death there at the request of the coroner, the Health and Disability Commission and the Medical Council.

Express staff have been fielding questions from people wanting to know the name of the doctor being investigated and whether Wairau Hospital was safe.

Board chairman John Peters said he would "expect that a responsible journalist" would refer inquiries of that nature to the hospital.

"We have had no inquiries of this nature."

He believed service at Wairau Hospital to be of a good standard and had always considered patient safety to be the highest priority."

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