Health hub a plus says DHB

ALANA DIXON AND GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 10:31 12/11/2012

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The development of a health campus in Queenstown would reduce the need for patients to travel to Invercargill and Dunedin to receive care, the Southern District Health Board said last week.

The financial chief Robert Mackway-Jones said the board had worked through "anxiety in the community" from a previous proposal that would have meant patients who came to the Lakes District Hospital emergency department - and were not deemed to be an emergency - would pay to see a doctor instead.

At last week's health board meeting in Invercargill , chief executive Carole Heatly said the DHB had continued to work with private-sector health providers to develop the campus at the Lakes District Hospital site.

"It [Lakes District] has got the fastest-growing population in New Zealand . . . the big benefits are that we could provide more services closer to home, without people having to travel to Invercargill or Dunedin [for treatment]," she said. The health campus was an exciting development for residents in the area, she said.

On Friday, board executive manager of finance and funding Robert Mackway-Jones said it would not completely remove the need for patients to travel to larger hospitals for non-emergency care, but it would cut down on numbers.

In September the board announced the shared model of care - the only model of its kind in the Southern district - was going forward, combining public and private health services at Queenstown's Frankton site.

This fulfills one of 21 recommendations from the Wakatipu Health Services expert panel to support the better integration of care, identified as a necessity for the Wakatipu Basin communities last year.

Southern Cross Hospitals, Southern Cross Primary Care and Queenstown Medical Centre, Bupa Care Services NZ, Queenstown Pharmacy, The Skin Institute and Body Mechanics are involved in the project.

Mr Mackway-Jones emphasised this was separate from the Lakes District Hospital emergency department.

A controversial point of a past proposal by the board was to align the emergency department with a general practice and patients not deemed to be emergencies would pay to see a doctor instead.

Mr Mackway-Jones said it was not clear at this time who the health clinic would be accountable to as a private and public mix of services, "but that type of detail would be worked out."

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