Lakes District Hospital: we want to hear your experiences

by Lauren Pattemore - Dec 05, 2023


In the wake of our 7,000-signature, new hospital petition that was ignored by the previous Labour Government, Crux has decided to reach out to the community. We want to hear from you.

Fionnagh Dougan, in charge of NZ's hospitals and she reckons the Queenstown Lakes is a "rural" district

We want to hear everything that you've experienced - good and bad - from the Lakes District Hospital. A previous Queenstown Lakes District mayor called the the hospital "a joke" and even the old Southern District Health Board agreed that the hospital was not fit for purpose.

Most importantly we want to acknowledge the often heroic work of the staff that work there, but it is in the public interest to discover the true state of play with this vital but tiny and under-resourced facility. 

To put this all in context Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ's current national director for hospital and specialist services Fionnagh Dougan categorises Queenstown as a "rural area". If we are then this is a rural area growing at eight percent a year with an international airport and around 3 million visitors every year!

Please tell us your Lakes District Hospital experiences; were you ever last minute choppered to hospitals in Dunedin or Invercargill, did you have to wait overnight for a chopper because all the beds at Dunedin Hospital were full or poor weather conditions prevented flying?

Was there just one doctor on duty when you waited to be seen? Are you a staff member who would like to talk to us anonymously? Did your maternity experience result in extra stress due to a lack of local medical facilities? 

We need to hear your stories, either on the record or anonymously. It's important. 

And hospital staff and healthcare workers are especially encouraged to reach out. You serve our community so tirelessly, and are universally admired.

A very worried, now retired Queenstown health care worker penned a letter to Ms Dougan asking for a bigger base hospital to be built in Queenstown. 

The reply pointed out that Queenstown and Wānaka are still classed as 'rural' areas.

"How can we be considered rural?," the health care worker asks of New Zealand's hospital director, but her concerns fell on deaf ears.

"The population here far outweighs Timaru, Blenheim, Gisborne District, Whangarei, all which have base hospitals. Invercargill’s population is around 57,100."

Crux found $1.3million was spent on helicopter transfers from Lakes Hospital for the financial year ending June 2022. 

"The population need to have healthcare locally, to not have to travel for hours and find accommodation for more acute and routine surgery."  

Expectant mothers should be able to have a caesarian locally.

It's a longstanding problem our 'rural' area has to put up with, but Mayor Glyn Lewers told Crux whenever he hears the health authority calling this area rural, he pushes back against the language.

We've also heard from a Cromwell mother whose frequent Dunedin visits for her son are placing a strain on the family and their finances

And another Lakes District Hospital nurse told the audience at a recent general election candidate meeting that "babies are dying" as a result of outdated and inadequate hospital facilities. 

Crux also received affirmation from more than 7,000 of you in 2018 that the area needs a new hospital in a local petition to the then Labour health minister. At the time that story was written the petition had reached 5,500 signatures.

Still there has not been any change.

We need to hear your stories. It's only those stories that we can use to make a real difference in the eyes of distant officials and politicians who are in charge of what for us locals is a life or death situation.

Email, in total confidence and privacy: [email protected] 

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