Better health care in the region and an upgrade for a 10-bed Lakes District Hospital were burning topics at a Clutha-Southland candidate debate.
Over 100 residents joined the political debate hosted by Grey Power in Queenstown on Friday.
National representative Hamish Walker, Labour’s candidate Cherie Chapman, Rachael Goldsmith from The Green Party, New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson were participating in the debate.
Ban 1080 party representative Brian Adams, who received 915 votes at the last election, joined the well-known political parties too.
*Queenstown project managers chosen for Lakes Hospital upgrade
*Tourists owe $50k for care in Lakes hospital
*Southern DHB to upgrade Queenstown’s emergency department, retain ownership
Chapman said provision of better heath services was one of the main priorities in Labour’s campaign.
Two of her friends have gone from the first stage of cancer to terminal, while waiting months to be treated.
The high number tourists using Lakes District Hospital was impacting on the services local residents received, she said.
A $25 visitor levy for international arrivals plus mandatory health insurances would ease up the situation.
Goldsmith, who had to wait for 24 weeks to get her breast lump checked, said the region deserved better health care.
Her party would allocate funding into health care infrastructure to reflect the growth of the “booming” region.
“You deserve better then this. You also deserve mental health services that respond directly to your needs,” she said.
Walker said the hospital in Frankton needed to be upgraded, but patients could still be looked after in Dunedin Hospital.
“I think whatever your treatment is you should go to the best hospital for it,” he said.
Patterson said a $1.4 billion upgrade to Dunedin Hospital would not help the region, where the population was “exploding”.
The government was not seeing the big picture,he said.
Ban 1080 party member Adams suggested New Zealand citizens fly to Thailand for any medical treatment and the government would pay for it.
He compared their hospitals to “five star hotels” and said the services were more affordable.
“It’s cheaper than building a new hospital,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has announced a two-stage upgrade to ensure Lakes District Hospital can meet the needs of its growing population in August last year.
It would include improved emergency treatment, diagnosis, transfer centres and the refurbishing of wards.