Central Otago MPs, mayors lobby minister for health action

by Lauren Pattemore - May 10, 2024

Whilst the big local health news of the week came from developer Roa and their intentions to build a $300-million private hospital in Wānaka, meanwhile, there's also another local health proposal sitting on the desk of New Zealand's health minister Shane Reti.

Queenstown-based ACT MP Todd Stephenson, who presented the proposal along with Southland MP Joseph Mooney, Waitaki MP Miles Anderson and local mayors Glyn Lewers and Tim Cadogan, explains the proposal focuses on the future of healthcare services in the region, and understanding the area's needs and how health providers, both public and private, can work together to meet those needs.

A Queesntown health consultant was brought on board to work on the document, but details on what's included in it are scarce for now.

However, not on the local leaders' agendas, nor presented in their proposal to the minister, Roa's proposed five-storey, private hospital, with 24 hour emergency department, four operating theatres, and 70 inpatient beds.

MP for Waitaki, which includes Wānaka, Miles Anderson says he was "in the dark" about the project plans. But, he is waiting with interest to see further details.

"It's pretty bold, isn't it?

"I see they're going to be looking for fast-track approval for the hospital build, so good on them for getting up and putting a proposal together.

"If it goes ahead, I guess anything that improves the health provision within the Central Otago region is good news."

Mr Anderson says the developers behind Roa have already been in touch since their announcement, and he intends to meet with them soon. 

He is optimistic about the potential for public-private partnerships if the Wānaka facility eventuates.

"Health New Zealand will obviously have an opinion on that, but I would think that anything that requires no taxpayer money to build and only services to be required...is good.

"I imagine they (Roa) will be looking for a contract of some description from Health New Zealand to provide X amount of ED presentations or for surgical beds."

Mr Anderson acknowledges there is lots happening in Wānaka's health space at the moment, noting the earlier announcement to further develop the health precinct across the road from Aspiring Medical Centre and the Wānaka Lakes Health Centre, by adding a surgery. 

A resource consent was lodged for this in March

Mr Anderson says that the group of MPs and mayors who sent the proposal to Dr Reti have another meeting with him later in the month to discuss it. 

MP Joseph Mooney says he'll also be watching to see how Roa's proposal progresses, saying it brings a fresh aspect "to the overall picture for Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes".

Mr Mooney worked on the proposal presented to Dr Reti with Queenstown health consultant Helen Foot, and sought advice independently from Health New Zealand.

He was tight-lipped when asked to provide more details on what was included in the proposal, saying it was "simply too early" to be discussing specifics. 

"Further information is being gathered," Mr Mooney says. 

Mr Mooney says Queenstown Lakes's health workforce hasn't kept pace with its growing population. 

He says his government understands and acknowledges that there are many challenges putting pressure on the local health system, particularly workforce shortages.

Mr Stephenson, who moved to Queenstown last year, says he heard of local concerns about access to health services during the election campaign. 

"I’ll continue to work constructively with the local MPs and mayors on this important issue for the region.”

Queenstown Lakes District mayor Glyn Lewers was approached for comment, but did not respond. 

Support Crux Support Crux