Setting the Scene
Over the past few months, since the 2010 election campaign, a failed candidate has repeated the mantra ‘That Otaki was forced to go north to MidCentral for their health services.’ I have listened to this some 4 or 5 times and in spite of repeatedly advising the truth he repeated it again this month. This myth was repeated at the last community board meeting with the statement “we were forced to go to Palmerston North”!
What concerns me is that oft repeated lies become reality so let me put the record straight and also put straight some personal accusations. At a campaign meeting last October, this man also accused me of corruption for forcing Otaki to go north for personal gain. Let me also exercise my right to defend that statement.
What Really Happened
Over 25 years ago the residents of Otaki held a public meeting. It was called with the health authorities from both Wellington and Palmerston North to discuss the then Minister’s intention of aligning the health boundaries with those of the Regional Council.
At that meeting, which I did not attend, the health authorities met with community anger at being put with Wellington.
At that meeting Wellington said they did not want us.
At that meeting Palmerston North said they did.
The community of Otaki decided where they wanted to receive their health services and it was from Palmerston North. The Minister then issued a regulation to change the boundaries in agreement with community’s expressed preference to put us with Palmerston North.
I was not at that meeting simply because I did not live here at the time. I played no part in this community’s decision.
Current Practice – the Right to Choose
What I was involved in when I arrived in Otaki was the then Otaki Community Health Committee. Part of the work that committee did was to amalgamate with the other health committees in Kapiti. While on that committee, I was part of the group which negotiated with MidCentral to enable residents to choose where they received the hospital services. Residents can, and do, choose to go south and this practice has been available for over a decade. Your general practitioners know this.
There is difficulty when patients receive emergency treatment. The doctors or the St John Ambulance paramedics make a clinical judgment where to send a patient. It is usually to the quickest base hospital which is at Palmerston North. Sometimes if it is a head injury the helicopter will go straight to Wellington. These decisions are based on clinical needs and I for one respect that.
We residents of Otaki have never been forced by me or anyone else to go to Palmerston North for our health services. The residents of the day chose to align with Palmerston North but as said above, choice about where to go was protected and that remains the position today. It is sad that one person persists in attempting to mislead and worry the community.