Dunedin Hospital waiting lists, rebuild a hot election issue for southern voters




Health has emerged as a major election issue for many Otago voters waiting for new facilities and surgery dates at Dunedin Hospital.

Patients say they are suffering in pain while being mucked around by the Southern District Health Board.
Source: 1 NEWS

Many patients say they're suffering in pain because of long waiting lists and being fobbed off by the Southern District Health Board.

Kathryn McGregor, who has has been waiting 19-months for an answer from the DHB on her next surgery for a bowel condition, told 1 NEWS the board is "run by monkeys and there's too many cooks in the kitchen".

She said she is "getting fobbed off, getting mucked around, lengthy delays, told 'there's nothing wrong with you, go home'."

Another patient, Debbie Hill, who waited five years for her breast cancer surgery and now needs more said she cries and worries her cancer will spread while she waits.

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming apologised, saying they need to do better and are not meeting the required timeframe for providing surgery for some people.

It is getting harder to get care than it used to be."
David Clark, Labour's health spokesman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the Southern DHB has had an extra quarter of a billion dollars in funding in the last decade.

"The Government's absolutely committed to putting patients first and getting the services that they need," he said.

But Labour's health spokesman, David Clark, says it's getting harder to get care than it used to be.

"The thresholds have gone up and that is because of underfunding," he said.

Work is underway on a $15 million intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital. But a Government promise of a complete rebuild of the hospital has no start date, and the cost estimate has risen from around $300 million two years ago to nearly $1 billion.

So while southern patients continue to wait for new facilities and surgery dates, it's an issue that's likely to influence their decision come election time.

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