Study into WDHS links continues


A study into whether Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) will link with the South Canterbury District Health Board is ongoing, and will result in the public being asked for their views.
WDHS, a Waitaki District Council-owned company that runs Oamaru Hospital, is at present under the umbrella of the Dunedin-based Southern District Health Board, which funds WDHS.
However, relations have been strained in recent times, after the SDHB announced plans to cut WDHS funding by 10%.
Healthcare in the district is already under pressure, with a decision made in March to cut the number of beds at the hospital from 30 to 24.
At the time, Oamaru Hospital general manager Robert Gonzales and WDHS chairman George Berry were both concerned that, while the SDHB was being funded for inflation, that funding was not being passed on to regional hospitals.
In the company’s half-yearly report to the Waitaki District Council, which was presented to councillors at a meeting of its finance, audit and risk committee on Wednesday, Mr Berry said an investigation into any move north of the Waitaki River was ongoing.
“The directors are continuing the study of a possible boundary change to incorporate Waitaki district, perhaps excluding the area of Palmerston and south, in the SCDHB region, with a consequential transfer of funding and services to the management of the South Canterbury board.
“Any such arrangement would need to involve a continuation of the company providing a full range of contracted services, and if this is proceeded it is possible that further services could be provided locally with consequent benefit to the company and our district, supported by a closer base hospital to serve the district at Timaru.”When the study “of all aspects of any such move” was completed, Waitaki residents and health organisations would be asked to give their views.
“There are many similarities between the South Canterbury and North Otago districts in terms of population demographics and health service requirements. These are not reflected to the same extent with the Southern board and Dunedin,” Mr Berry said.
“Such a review and expression of public opinion would provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconsider the issue of whether Waitaki would be better served north or south by the Dunedin or Timaru base hospitals.”For the six months to December 31, WDHS posted an operating loss of $36,623, while the Waitaki District Health Services Trust had an operating profit of $116,411. That made for an overall surplus of $79,818.
More than $93,000 has been spent on the Observatory Village development in the past six months, while total costs to December 31 were $651,758, which paid for a feasibility study, architectural services, project management, engineering, surveying, professional fees, taxation advice, operation structure reviews and the tendering process.
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