Have a say in health care – Waitaki mayor

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If North Otago residents want a say in their health care, they should attend one of two consultation sessions being held by the Southern District Health Board tomorrow, Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher says.

The SDHB will be holding two question-and-answer discussions on the draft Southern Strategic Health Services Plan 2015-2025, which was released on October 10.

Mr Kircher said the draft plan, which predicted Waitaki would have a population drop of six per cent between 2013 and 2031, would have an impact on health funding in the area and people needed to have their say.

“I’m hoping that we have a good turnout from the wider public.

“We want to make sure we are represented accordingly and so we don’t end up being second best when it comes to services.”

The sessions would be a good chance for people to learn about the SDHB’s plans and to give them feedback to make sure Waitaki was well represented, he said.

“I would really encourage people to come along to the seminars.

“The general health of our community is really important.”

Mr Kircher said he was not certain there would be a drop in population as predicted, because last year’s census showed a population increase of about three per cent and there were more positive things happening in the district, which should ensure the rise continued.

He was also worried the population projections would mean the district would get less funding and even if a decrease were to occur, the percentage of older residents was high, meaning Waitaki would probably need more health care in general.

“We’re going to have more older people needing more medical help, so we will need more support.”

SDHB chief executive Carole Heatly said the population numbers were based on national statistics from the Government that every district health board in New Zealand would be using.

“At the end of the day, that’s where we get our funding.”

The district plan had to take into account each area and work out how to make the best of the funding they would receive, she said.

“We will be looking at each different area in terms of their needs.”

Feedback received from the consultation sessions, as well as online or by post before November 21, will be considered before the plan is finalised by the board in early 2015.

“We want to come out to communities and we want to ask them about how we can make things smoother.”

Ms Heatly said she wanted to encourage people in the community to come along and make their views heard so the SDHB could know if they had the right approach, if something needed to be changed or if they were missing a vital aspect.

“We hope to get some really good feedback.

“Waitaki is an important part of our district.

“We are really looking forward to coming up to Oamaru and being able to engage with the community up there.”

This draft plan is the first long-term plan for the SDHB since its inception in 2010 after the Otago and Southland DHBs merged.

The plan is intended to provide a direction for models of care, resource allocation, service configuration and capacity development for the Southern health system over the next decade.

The two public consultation sessions will be held at the Oamaru Opera House from 3pm to 4.30pm and 5.30pm to 7pm and are being hosted by Mr Kircher.

Visit www.southerndhb.govt.nz/pages/shsp for more information or to have your say.

By RUBY HARFIELD