Provincial hospitals in Nats firing line again
New Zealanders should be very wary of any moves by the Government to ‘review’ services at provincial hospitals, given the underhand way Health Minister Tony Ryall has introduced changes at Blenheim’s Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.
“Mr Ryall signed off that hospital’s annual plan on July 2 2012, without any mention of a review of the surgical and orthopaedic services at the hospital in Blenheim (p3 attached).
“In January this year the Nelson Marlborough DHB announced it was reviewing those services because they were no longer sustainable.
“Talk about back to the future. The last time we saw provincial hospitals downgraded and threatened with closure was in 1998, under a National government.
“A similar review of Wairau was undertaken then by the National government. It took a Labour government to stop the downgrade of this hospital and have it rebuilt.
“Mr Ryall should have been honest from the beginning. He wasn’t. He kept the community and, apparently, local MP Colin King, in the dark.
‘It is ironic that while Mr Ryall is preparing to cut the hospital’s surgical and orthopaedic services, another National Party aspirant, Stuart Smith, is campaigning to do exactly the opposite, organising a public meeting to ‘Save our Services’.
“A question must be asked as to why it wasn’t Mr King organising that public meeting, or was he prevented from doing so by the Minister?
“Mr Ryall has hung this community out to dry. He has every right to change services, but how about some honesty about his intentions.
“I can only hope changes proposed for other hospitals are not handled in similar fashion.”