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Heart unit closure disaster for Otago & Southland

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

19 February 2002

Heart unit closure disaster for Otago & Southland

Dunedin's cardiac surgery unit is set to close as Health Minister Annette King has told Parliament today that Heart Surgery South Island will 'disappear altogether'.

When questioned by Opposition MPs on how surgery for waiting South Island heart patients would be funded, Mrs King indicated that Heart Surgery South Island would be disbanded because the services would in future be funded through district health boards. This means Dunedin will lose its heart unit.

"This is a disaster for Otago and Southland people. Without this company operating its mutual arrangement with both the Canterbury and Otago District Health Boards there will be just one heart unit based in Christchurch to serve the whole of the South Island.

"Once Dunedin loses heart surgery services you will lose the clinical and surgical people who work there.

"The reason Heart Surgery South Island was established was to maintain the ability to do heart surgery in Dunedin and Christchurch. Now there will be a return to the same arguments between two cities over who should provide the services.

"Annette King promised she would address surgery waiting times but this closure will do nothing but catapult waiting times and lists above already crisis levels," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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