May 03, 2021 Share
Originally published as a column in Whats On Invers and Western Star
Is Invercargill hospital too small?
I am carefully making my way through a raft of documents, having discussions with key clinicians, as well as visiting comparable hospitals. On the face of it, my answer is YES - our hospital is too small.
Back in 2000, when planning was underway for the new hospital, our population had been declining over the previous decade. Rogernomics, rural communities losing farm workers, and rural services and businesses in decline, had taken their toll.
I remember the arguments we had trying to convince Government officials in health and education that this was not a long term trend and should not be used as the basis for planning purposes including closing schools and building health infrastructure.
Through a range of changes in farming practices and other initiatives like SIT’s Zero Fees scheme, our population grew again. Unfortunately the Government officials stuck rigidly to the census forecasts, predicting a continuing decline. Unfortunately some schools closed, when they shouldn’t have, and our hospital was built too small.
Looking at the average sizes of hospitals serving similar populations, the comparisons are alarming. On average, we are 90 beds short and have two less theatres. This manifests itself in a number of terrible ways for our people. For instance, using the national points scale for hip replacements, if you are in the Canterbury DHB area you will get your hip replacement at 50 points. However, in Invercargill it takes 70 points. That’s additional suffering, in debilitating pain, for our people and it’s not good enough.
This is just the start of a really important issue which I intend to pursue.