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Minister of Health asked to consider DHB boundary

Minister of Health asked to consider DHB boundary change

Otago MP David Parker has asked the Minister of Health Annette King to amend the boundaries of the Southland and Otago District Health Boards to include the Wakatipu area within the Otago district rather than the Southland district.

The request follows the outcome of a survey of Wakatipu residents in February seeking their view on whether Queenstown/Wakatipu health services should be governed by the Southland or Otago District Health Board.

The Wakatipu area is presently within the boundary of the Southland District Health Board.

In a recent letter to the Minister, Mr Parker said he believed the natural community of interest for Queenstown and the Wakatipu lay with the Otago electorate and the Otago Regional Council area.

“The other parts of the Central Otago/Lakes area to which the Queenstown/Wakatipu relates include Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra,” the letter said.

“All of these areas are in the Otago DHB district. Indeed the present DHB boundary splits the Queenstown Lakes District Council area between the Otago and Southland Health Board districts. This is contrary to the intention expressed in Section 19(3) of the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001 for Health Districts under that Act,” said Mr Parker.

“I have not suggested to my constituents that a change of boundary would result in an overnight improvement in the Wakatipu area,” he said. “Though I do believe that in the longer term the Otago District Health Board is better able to deliver and oversee health services in the area.”

The survey was delivered by bulk mail to households in the Wakatipu area. Mr Parker received responses on behalf of 2028 people in 769 households in the Wakatipu area. Ninety percent (1822 people in 687 households) favoured changing the boundary to include the Wakatipu area within the Otago district. Only 10% (206 people in 82 households) favour retaining the status quo.

“This survey unequivocally shows that a very, very high proportion of the people in the Wakatipu basin believe the boundary should change to include the Wakatipu area within the Otago district. The Mayor and local medical practitioners also favour the change of boundary,” he said.

Mr Parker’s letter informed the Minister that Section 20 of the New Zealand Health and Disability Act 2000 permits any person to apply to the Minister of Health requesting that the boundary of the district health board be varied.

“To the best of my knowledge no person has requested that you use your Section 20 powers since the legislation was passed in 2000. I hereby request that you do so,” the letter said.

Mr Parker asked the Minister when taking her preliminary decision, to take into account the clear wishes of the Wakatipu people.

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