Health Minister signals marathon wait for new hospital
Crux had the first chance to confront Health Minister David Clark face to face today after our 8,000 strong petition called for a new hospital for the District. The answer, as the Minister opened a new $9 million wing of our existing tiny hospital, was "that's it for now."
The Minister has recently been critical of the Southern DHB's handling of a number of issues, including maternity care, and he promised today in a Crux video interview that there are solutions on the horizon for maternity services.
Asked why $100 million has recently been allocated to two West Coast hospitals, while the Southern Lakes has received a fraction of that amount, Dr Clark said that around $14 billion is needed to be found for health service upgrades all over New Zealand, suggesting that it might be a long wait for this part of the country.
The new wing opened today at the small and ageing Lakes District Hospital adds only two extra beds, extra consultation areas, two resuscitation bays, some air conditioning and a community funded CT scanner.
However the speeches made at the opening were befitting of a much grander project with Mayor Jim Boult keeping a very diplomatic silence throughout proceedings. He's previously called the Lakes District Hospital "a joke" and even one of the SDHB's own Commissioners has referred to the facility as "woefully inadequate." Mayor Boult has also been highly critical of the area's failing maternity services.
The Health Minister quipped that he was hoping not to be a "mystery shopper" at the new Emergency Department hospital wing when he runs the Queenstown Marathon tomorrow "after a pause of 15 years and 15 kilos."
However, everyone was on their best behaviour today as the VIP party toured the new wing, admiring shiny new corridors and the Central Lakes Trust funded CT scanner. The new wing was costed at $6.5 million until recently - with the extra costs being attributed to "the scope of the project changing" and "the requirement for heating and air conditioning."
Crux spoke with Health Minister David Clark and asked about the Crux 8,000 signature hospital petition as well as growing alarm over sub-standard maternity services, and public health services generally, in the south.