Hospital underfunding 'must be fixed'

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 05/06/2014

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Gore Hospital is receiving fewer funds than other rural hospitals in the south and the matter has to be addressed, the district's mayor says.

"If you look at the population bases for the other rural hospitals such as Oamaru, Dunstan and Clutha, and see what they are being funded on a population basis, and you compare it to Gore, then Gore is the poor relation," Tracy Hicks said.

The inequity in the funding had to be addressed, he said.

The issue stemmed from a $1 million cut in funding to Gore Hospital in 2005, and the hospital had never caught up, Hicks said.

Gore Health, which runs Gore Hospital, had created private practices around its core public hospital services, and used surpluses from those private businesses to help run the public hospital.

"They should not have to do that, and it's been an ongoing tension with the health board," Hicks said.

He believed Gore Health was being penalised for its efficiency and effectiveness rather than being rewarded for it.

"There is no other [rural hospital in the Southern District Health Board area] that I am aware of that has been going out of its way to look at alternatives, and that should be encouraged rather than penalised," Hicks said.

"I understand the health board is under pressure but people in the Gore district deserve funding for the same services the other [rural] hospitals are getting provided."

"It's a shame it's got to this point."

Aggravating the funding issue, Gore Health chief executive Karl Metzler said last week that the health board was not giving its rural hospitals any extra funding in the next financial year.

Gore Health received $5.2m this financial year.

Southern District Health Board executive director of planning and funding Sandra Boardman said it was not useful to compare "crude contract values" between the rural hospitals because it ignored critical information about each of the communities the hospitals served.

Each had different distances from the base hospitals, availability of transport links, demographic makeup and other key services, Boardman said.

The catchment population for each rural hospital varied with visitor numbers, she said.

The health board had increased Gore Hospital funding for each of the last three years and the people of the Gore district had access to the same range of health services as other communities in the Southern District Health Board catchment area, Boardman said.

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