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Concern Over Rural Health Services

The provision of adequate health services in rural areas is in crisis, say the mayors and chairs of all South Island local authorities.

They met for the first time since the 1989 local government amalgamation and today they expressed concern that rural doctors were not able to get adequate support through relieving doctors to provide after-hours services.

Dunedin’s Mayor, Sukhi Turner, said the mayors and chairs would be working with the Medical Association to support it in arranging adequate financing and to make more doctors available for locum services in the rural districts.

The meeting in Hanmer Springs covered a wide range of South Island issues. The main theme was about greater co-operation and collaboration among local authorities at all levels.

Mrs Turner said the meeting was initiated to promote the South Island and to draw upon the collective influence of civic leaders. The meeting had provided a forum to address concerns and to discuss innovative solutions to economic development and jobs; working with South Island iwi; and roading reforms.
Other topics were a water review, tourism, the alpine fault, and the local control of local communities.

Mrs Turner said the key outcome was a decision to hold a South Island economic development next year.

“We feel that all stakeholders in our communities should participate in the summit which would include local and central government, business, community organisations, and South Island iwi,” she said.

The alpine fault was regarded as another vital issue that affected all South Islanders. It was decided to promote discussions among emergency management groups and the Defence Forces.

The meeting decided that it was important to maintain the present community ownership and management of roads and water.

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