Senior doctors back West Coast protest over shoddy funding decisions for new medical facility
“Senior doctors support tomorrow’s protest by West Coast people over the shoddy decision-making and flawed funding model for a new local medical facility,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
“It’s not that the facility isn’t needed – it’s about the Government foisting an unwanted public ‘private’ partnership called ‘capital recycling’ on the West Coast District Health Board under the guise of doing the local community a good turn, when in fact the funding model being imposed is likely to strip millions of dollars out of patient care in the region.
“We believe that the additional cost of this dodgy funding method is likely to be up to $1 million more than the normal method of funding new hospital buildings each year for up to 34 years” said Mr Powell.
“Local people have rightly seen through this paper-thin decision driven by a mix of ideology and a desire to make the Government’s finance books look good by transferring from its books the annual repayment costs of building the facility to West Coast DHB’s books; in other words, to patient services. They are letting the Government know of their concerns through their recent submission to Parliament’s health select committee and by the protest on Saturday. Senior doctors share these concerns.
“The DHB, senior doctors and nurses, and the wider community have been marginalised through the control of this project by the misnamed Partnership Group,” says Mr Powell. “We note also the concerns of West Coast people about the risks of building the new facility of swampy land when there is a more suitable alternative – the current site – available”.
ASMS has previously raised senior doctors’ concerns about the funding deal, which would see the DHB lose its land to ACC, which would then build an integrated family medical centre in Westport and lease the facility back to the DHB (https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2017/05/18/dhb-pushed-funding-deal-will-take-money-patient-services-full-disclosure-independent-scrutiny-required/).
“Patients and their families will be the losers if the DHB’s operating costs rise and even more pressure is placed on local health services,” says Mr Powell.
“The responsibility for this poorly constructed proposal rests squarely with the Government through the Ministry of Health, Treasury, and the ‘Partnership’ group. The Government needs to drop its costly ‘capital recycling’ funding mechanism, reinstate West Coast DHB as the genuine leaders of the proposed new facility, put health professionals at the heart of the facility’s design and development, and require proper engagement and consultation with the Buller community.”