Media Release - 04/03/09
The new initiative is called the South Island Health Services Plan. It aims to keep health services close to where people live, while also making sure those services are viable in the long term, from a clinical, workforce and financial perspective.
Representatives from the six South Island DHBs and the South Island Shared Services Agency (SISSAL), including Canterbury District Health Board, have formed a steering group. As planning progresses, the membership of the steering group may need to evolve further.
Canterbury District Health Board Chief Executive David Meates says, the DHBs are working together in a South Island-wide approach to help ensure that everyone in the South Island receives the health services they deserve and need.
“Forging closer links with our South Island DHB neighbours is important because it will be the key to success for all of us,” he says.
“Canterbury provides a wide range of tertiary level services for the South Island. It is vital that our future planning actively involves and engages neighbouring DHBs in that process.”
South Island Health Services Planner Jan Barber (from SISSAL) says the planning process will look at what health services need to look like in the future to ensure a strong, viable health system for the South Island.
“We’re starting with an assessment of priorities from each DHB that are identified as services that could potentially benefit from a South Island approach,” she says. “For instance, we know that neurosurgical services could be more efficient and effective with a South Island approach but the assessment will also identify other areas of priority for our focus.” These services will be assessed against the impact for the population and the amenability to change.
South Island-wide planning to ensure a viable neurosurgery service is already underway, and will be followed shortly by other areas as they are initiated.
Jan says an important element of the South Island Health Services Plan is getting key people involved and keeping people informed.
“It’s vital that clinical staff are actively engaged at the outset and are integrally involved in the direction the planning process takes. It’s also vital that we have clear links to communities throughout the South Island to ensure people are informed about where planning is at and how it will benefit the sustainability of services they will need to access now, and into the future.
“It’s not about saying we can’t provide a service, but more about ‘how can we work together to provide the service,” she says.
Lead chief executive for the project is Chris Fleming, the chief executive of South Canterbury District Health Board.
Mr Fleming says the group is taking a wide view across the South Island to ensure the viable delivery of health services, and to ensure those health services also continue to meet the needs of the South Island population.
“While planning on such a widespread scale can be daunting, this should be seen by communities as an exciting opportunity to ensure access to high quality health services are secured for the South Island long term.
“It’s about improving quality, improving clinical networks and providing a supportive collegial environment for clinical staff, while at the same time ensuring services remain accessible to people throughout the South Island. It’s also about ensuring that we recognise trends in health care and the changing face of the workforce to ensure we maintain sustainable services of a high quality,” he says.
The South Island Health Services Plan builds on work already done, such as West Coast DHB's sustainability project. Similar planning is also happening in the lower half of the North Island and other DHB regions in New Zealand.