Southcare – the future?
Taranaki Daily News - 26th April 2013
“The recent meeting at the Hawera community centre produced more questions than answers; why have things gone wrong? Will there be enough GPs in the district? What is the future of the Southcare building? And how will this impact the Hawera Hospital?
It was also disappointing that the DHB and Midlands Network were silent on the night and that the board seems have no solutions beyond the doctors returning or selling the practice.
So how do we move forward? Firstly we must ascertain what went wrong. An independent review of the trust operations over the last 18 months must be conducted to restore the faith of the community; whether this is an independent group of trusted locals, the charities commission / auditor general or the seemingly inevitable receiver, it is critical to know why the trust has failed. If there has been any illegal activity the culprit(s) should be prosecuted, if there has been mismanagement or a failure in governance the community needs to know (especially as some of the trustees represent our interests on other trusts and boards), if there has been a failure in the model of care then these mistakes can be learned from.
No-one will be prepared to put themselves forward as trustee until such time as the personal liabilities are fully understood.
Secondly we must build a new model for healthcare in Taranaki that protects the vulnerable, meets the diverse needs of our community and learns from the Southcare experience.
A new model must ensure the continued survival of the accident and emergency department at Hawera hospital and the other critical services it provides, a new GP practice or sale of Southcare to a third party that undermines the value of the hospital and enables the DHB to progress its previous plans for downgrading of Hawera would be most unwelcome. Whilst an integrated family healthcare model appears to be an ideal, in practice the financial costs and lean thinking 10 minute appointment systems and out of town call centres do not easily fit with the services our community want or deserve.
We have committed passionate, intelligent and qualified people in our community who can define a better model of care for our community.
Lastly, the structure of an entity to move forward needs to made in such a way that it is not perpetually burdened with debt. Again we need to be innovative, if members of the community (such as Leigh Miles is prepared to put forward his hard earned pension dollars) should we not consider an equity model where the Council, the TSB Bank, local business, the doctors and the community have an equity stake? There would be an option for doctors to be employees or shareholders based on their circumstances thus catering for both those who wish to remain in the longer in the community but also providing for an employee model for those who do not. The Council / TSB funds would appreciate in line with the increase in the value of the land and buildings, and a dividend policy could either return profits to the community or be reinvested to grow the services, replace equipment and build a true holistic family focused approach to healthcare.
Perhaps the Southcare Medical Trust’s fate is already sealed but there is an opportunity to learn from its mistakes and take healthcare in South Taranaki forward.”
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