Southern Cross confirms limited Queenstown hospital plans
Private hospital provider Southern Cross has confirmed it is planning to build a hospital in Queenstown but it’s distancing itself from the proposal put forward by developer Alastair Porter.
It’s looking at a surgical-only facility and it won’t require public funds or guaranteed outsourced surgical volumes.
It doesn’t have a site yet and says it’s in talks with potential partners for a joint venture.
In an unusual move, Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHB chairman Andrew Blair, of Hawke’s Bay, is the project’s spokesman. He says he’s involved as he owns a house in Arrowtown.
He issued a statement to Crux this afternoon spelling out the Southern Cross position in a bid to put its side of the story forward, after the launch of Crux’s campaign for a new local hospital. He says he hopes to announce more details in about two months.
Blair was in charge of the Dunedin Hospital rebuild until he was sacked by incoming Health Minister David Clark, but he held on to his two DHB chairman roles, meaning he’s well connected politically.
The proposal will disappoint those who back the vision put forward by Porter and local doctor Hans Raetz for a hospital providing acute and emergency care. That proposal would require not just public money, but an exemption from Labour’s ideological opposition to public-private partnerships.
Blair says the Southern Cross proposal doesn’t require any public funds but provides an outsourcing option for Southern District Health Board (SDHB).
Blair has been keeping the SDHB informed of what’s planned.
“To demand financial or contractual support from the DHB at this time will only delay the opportunity as would any requirement to co-locate on the DHB land. What we are proposing will have a true community focus. It will not be a get rich scheme.”
Porter is still a potential partner, Blair says, but he points out that Southern Cross is still waiting on the developer to furnish details of how it would work.
“That is just one option, and despite recent commentary that a hospital involving Southern Cross is ready to be built (in Remarkables Park), Southern Cross and I are still awaiting details of what that relationship might look like and what the financial terms would be.
“Many well-meaning people and groups have tried to get improved hospital services for the region and I admire their efforts.
“But for a number of reasons there is still no adequate surgical facility in the Queenstown and Central Lakes region,” he says.
Andrew Blair’s statement in full:
I am an independent business advisor and professional director with around 25 years’ experience in the health sector, building and operating hospitals, in the private and public sectors. At the beginning of this year I purchased a home in Arrowtown and that has become my base from where I have offered my experience and networks to facilitate the establishment of a surgical hospital facility for the Queenstown and Central Lakes region.
I have identified Southern Cross Hospitals (SX) as the hospital operator of choice because they have the experience scale and resources to best partner in owning and operating a hospital facility in the region. They are also a “not-for-profit” entity and are in a position to embark on this opportunity at this time notwithstanding the marginal financial business case. I am working closely with SX and am authorised by Terry Moore, chief executive to speak on behalf of SX in relation to this opportunity.
I can confirm SX are committed to partnering in the establishment of an independent surgical hospital facility for this region. I believe the region deserves a surgical hospital facility and I have worked quietly for the past six months towards achieving that and I expect to be in a position to provide details around that within the next couple of months. At this time I do not intend adding to the stream of media announcements that the region has been exposed to over many years, with promises and plans that have not eventuated and in many cases were never going to. I prefer to wait until I can speak with some certainty as to what we will be doing. Many well-meaning people and groups have tried to get improved hospital services for the region and I admire their efforts. But for a number of reasons there is still no adequate surgical facility in the Queenstown and Central Lakes region My vision, together with SX is to establish an independent hospital facility, which will provide services not currently available in the region but which will compliment what the DHB is providing and what other healthcare providers offer. Unlike other proposals, I do not intend demanding the support of Government, or the DHB or ACC. I do not believe that is necessary.
I will be promoting an Independent Hospital. Having said that, the services we will provide will compliment what the DHB and other healthcare providers already offer, and we will be happy to work with the DHB to facilitate publicly funded surgery being provided from our proposed facility if they want that. But to demand financial or contractual support from the DHB at this time will only delay the opportunity as would any requirement to co-locate on the DHB land.
I have kept the Chief Executive of the DHB fully informed of what we are proposing. What we are proposing will have a true community focus. It will not be a get rich scheme. It will be run with proper sustainable commercial disciplines, but with a very strong community conscience. Personally, and unlike some past and present promoters of hospital services for this region or elsewhere, I am not involved in this to make a fortune. I am doing this to make a difference.
I want to facilitate my community gaining improved access to healthcare services. I am aware of the opportunity to develop a health campus in the Remarkables Park and SX has had a long association with the parties promoting that. But that is just one option, and despite recent commentary that a hospital involving SX is ready to be built there, SX and I are still awaiting details of what that relationship might look like and what the financial terms would be.
So that is an option but not the only one. There are other sites and other partners who SX may end up working with. There are many factors being taken into account, including financial terms, site options, and importantly alignment of cultures and expectations. SX is a not for profit entity and would in my view partner well with other organisations or individuals who shared a community focus. I am working with other parties to finalise a joint venture which can then meaningfully get on with building a hospital and adding to the range of healthcare currently on offer to the region.
Until that joint venture is finalised, and matters such as site location agreed, it is premature, and unfair to speculate, make promises and build up the hopes of the community.
At this time I will not be talking about who may partner with SX in this proposal, what it might cost, where it might be located etc until those matters are fully agreed. In my view the region has unfairly had its hopes raised too many times in the past. For now I am under promising, but I remain confident that with the confirmed commitment of SX and the right joint venture partners that we will deliver.
Read: Mayor Jim Boult throws weight behind hospital project but only if free public services are provided.
Read: Heartbreaking comments from Crux readers in support of a new hospital.
Sign: The Crux petition in support of a new full service community hospital.
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