Bright Future For Rural Health Services

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English said today Otago Medical School's decision to offer specialised rural health training showed there was a bright future for Balclutha's community hospital and others like it.

"A decade of uncertainty and controversy over rural health services has come to an end," said Mr English at the opening of the new Balclutha hospital.

"Specialised rural health training at Otago will mean doctors and nurses can acquire the skills they need to offer better care and better service in rural areas.

"Most rural areas now have new, secure, integrated health services. My rural health policy has wide support because it shows how the Government can work with rural communities to develop these new services.

"Balclutha has had national attention for many years as the community struggled with an uncertain future for its old hospital. Today that struggle has come to an end, as it has in many smaller towns.

"Like other centres, Balclutha now has several years' funding locked in and certainty about its services. I have been keen to ensure people in smaller communities can have a sense of security and a public health service they can support.

"Today we should also pay tribute to the people who have served on the various health committees leading up to a local trust taking control of the hospital and the service contract.

"I am a firm believer in local control. Despite strong criticism from other political parties, the people of Balclutha have proved they are capable of running a local public health service under democratic control. The Government and the people of Balclutha have formed a long-term partnership and it will work.

"There are now dozens of health trusts throughout New Zealand successfully running a whole range of publicly-funded services and I expect this movement to grow in strength in the future," said Mr English.