Q'town private hospital delivering on public patient promise

by Kim Bowden - May 24, 2022

On average approximately four public patients a week have been saved a drive to Dunedin or Invercargill for surgery, thanks to a public-private partnership at Queenstown’s newest hospital.

Surgery figures supplied to Crux reveal the Southern Cross CLT Hospital is delivering on its promise to provide a local option for elective surgeries that don't require major hospital level treatment, and not just for paying patients.

The first surgery at the Frankton facility took place in January and by the end of April 63 patients on public waiting lists had received surgery at the hospital.

The SDHB's breakdown of surgical procedures carried out in Queenstown - for public health patients.

The Southern District Health Board’s chief operating officer Hamish Brown says the partnership enables the district health board to provide some care closer to home for patients based in the Queenstown Lakes area.

Specific details on who pays how much couldn’t be handed over due to commercial sensitivities, but Mr Brown says a contract is in place to continue the arrangement until June 2025.

The contract allows for a mix of “outplacing” – where the surgeon and anaesthetist are funded by the district health board while other healthcare staff involved work for Southern Cross – and “outsourcing” - where all of the staff involved are funded by the Southern Cross CLT Hospital.

“As to whether a patient’s care is provided by an SDHB surgeon and anaesthetist or a Southern Cross CLT Hospital surgeon and anaesthetist depends on staff availability, when the surgery takes place, and the type of care or surgery,” Mr Brown says.

“Our agreement with Southern Cross CLT Hospital is not dissimilar to arrangements and working relationships SDHB has also established with other private providers throughout the region.

“We are grateful for their support, and we know they share our commitment to supporting our community’s wellbeing and healthcare needs.”

Hospital chair Andrew Blair says the co-operative relationship with the district health board is delivering.

The hospital’s executive chair Andrew Blair says it was always the expectation the new hospital would provide capacity for a combination of publicly funded, ACC funded and private paying or insured patients, and it’s delivering on that.

In addition to the 63 surgical patients funded by the district health board, a number of patients funded by ACC who otherwise would have had to wait for treatment and travel to Invercargill or Dunedin have also undergone surgery at the Queenstown hospital, he says.

The hospital opened for day surgery in mid-January 2021; at the beginning of March, it expanded its surgical offerings to include those requiring overnight stays.

As at the end of April, it had provided surgery to a total 184 patients.

“We expect these number to continue to grow as we further expand our scope of procedures to include hip and knee replacements later this year for suitably qualifying patients,” Mr Blair says.

“We continue to work closely with the SDHB to identify additional numbers of patients who may be appropriately treated at our hospital in Queenstown.”

The hospital is a 50/50 joint venture between the Central Lakes Trust and Southern Cross Healthcare – the trust is an investment partner, while Southern Cross runs the facility, which features three operating theatres and 13 inpatient rooms.

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