The Government’s recent $1 million grant for the Maniototo Hospital rebuild has exposed the yawning gap in rural health service funding in other parts of Central Otago, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.
“I applaud the commitment and relentless fund-raising by Maniototo Health Services and the local community in getting their hospital project over the line. However, it also exposes the desperate need for rural health service support in others parts of this region, and raises questions around what communities have to do to get the funding they need.
“When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Maniototo Hospital grant she said that investing in basic services like health was a priority for the Government, while Health Minister David Clark has also boasted that it is important that people can access high-quality healthcare no matter where they live.
“For almost two years now I have petitioned the Health Minister for funding to help the hospital cope with increasing population and tourism growth but he has just referred me to the Southern District Health Board, despite him knowing this investment is outside their jurisdiction.
“Wanaka mothers have waited over a year for improved maternity facilities, there are on-going struggles to fund and maintain an after-hours service, and Central Otago women have recently been shut out of telemedicine clinics because of the costs.
“Labour’s Budget 2018 was a let-down, with almost $200 million less going into health ($731 million) than National funded in 2017 ($924 million).
“Budget 2019 is now only a matter of weeks away and Dr Clark has a lot of work to do if he is to address this region's declining health services and honour his and the Prime Minister’s promises of a greater investment in health.”