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Govt To Wait For Panel Over South Island Neurosurgery

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Govt To Wait For Panel Over South Island Neurosurgery

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, Aug 9 NZPA - The Government will wait to see what an expert panel decides for neurological services in the South Island rather than interfering, Prime Minister John Key says.

More than 10,000 marched through central Dunedin on Friday to protest the potential loss of neurosurgery in the region.

The five South Island district health boards (DHBs) agreed they would be best served by one DHB providing neurosurgery. That means one of the current providers -- Dunedin or Christchurch -- would have to give up its services.

The move has outraged locals.

An expert panel has been set up to consider the issues and will report to the Director General of Health in October.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said South Island DHBs had agreed they needed a "whole of South Island" neurological service.

"They can't agree on how many surgeons will be in Christchurch and how many will be in Dunedin," he said.

Mr Key confirmed today the Government had confidence in the panel's ability to make good decisions and would wait for its report.

DHBs could not reach an agreement, that's why the panel was set up, Mr Key said.

There was high demand, expectations and anxiety in the health sector, he said.

"People need the health system to work efficiently and effectively and I think the Health Minister's done a tremendous job, in the time that he's been in office, in trying to address that fundamental question."

Mr Key said it was not his responsibility to agree with every decision made by a DHB but he acknowledged people's concerns.

He said he understood Mr Ryall could legally direct DHBs over certain issues but the Government would be waiting to see what the panel said.

Neurosurgery is the medical speciality concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.

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