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Media Releases Archive

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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

April 27, 2012

Opinion piece - Future of health services on the West Coast

Over recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation in the media around the future of health services on the West Coast. Some of the information has come from leaks within the District Health Board, while some has come from past employees. Irrespective of where the information has come from some of the headlines have been misleading. It is important that Coasters have accurate facts when judging the validity of what they are reading in the paper and forming their opinion. Every health professional working on the West Coast is dedicated to ensuring the services we deliver are viable.

Currently the West Coast receives more health funding per head of population than any other District Health Board. We need to work with our community to determine what services are required and how we can best deliver those services while living within our means. Being able to deliver the right services, in a safe, sustainable and cost effective manner is the most important decision we have ahead of us.

Over the past 12 months Grey Base Hospital had 110 different "locum" senior doctors. This was in addition to a further 36 "locum" GPs. Despite the obvious costs associated with this approach, there is very little consistency and continuity of care being provided to the people on the West Coast.

We recently held a series of community meetings up and down the Coast, following on from public consultation on the proposed Buller Integrated Health Centre and the proposed redevelopment of the Grey Hospital. At these meetings Coasters were asked for input into our plans for the future. The question was posed if you could change one thing about health services on the Coast, what would it be. These meetings were an important way for the community to feedback on what they want from their health providers. The input we have received to date has been very valuable.

As a health provider on the Coast we are faced with many challenges - a small and geographically spread out population; difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff which has led to an over reliance on locums; outdated hospital facilities and some of our services not proving to be sustainable. None of these challenges are new. As a community we have an opportunity to work together and to be clever about how we spend our limited resources in the future. An obvious solution is working more collaboratively with other District Health Boards and particularly the Canterbury District Health Board.

What this means is that we can ensure essential services remain on the Coast. Hospital services will be provided 24/7 for people on the Coast, with support from Canterbury where clinically appropriate. Some services will need to be provided differently. For example the virtual Paediatric clinics that have been running for the past 14 months have seen more services provided to children and fewer children and their families having to travel to Christchurch. Patients on the Coast will benefit from the expertise of both West Coast and Canterbury clinicians. The proposal to work more closely with Canterbury is termed 'the TransAlpine health service', you will be hearing more about this over the next 12 months.

Over the past year we have come a long way towards providing viable healthcare services that will be around for our grandchildren. Important steps have already been taken including: Improving clinical information systems; commencing the development of the Buller Integrated Family Health Centre (which we hope will be operational by late 2014); outlining plans for a $38 million dollar rebuild of the Grey Base Hospital; launching a world-class TeleHealth service; working more closely with the Canterbury District Health Board and recruiting much needed full time senior clinicians.

People living on the Coast, or contemplating moving here, must have trust and confidence in the West Coast healthcare system. We have the opportunity to really make a difference for West Coasters in the future and we need your support along the way.

David Meates, Chief Executive
Canterbury DHB and West Coast DHB
P O Box 1600, Christchurch 8140


For further information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
Email: This is not a link as we want to prevent spam.  Please transfer the email address on the image carefully into your email client before sending the email.  You might find, with some older email addresses on this site that they are no longer current, for staff-change reasons.  If your email bounces back please contact the WCDHB Communications Team - see Contacts section of this site.

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