Recently, MP Chris Tremain convened and co-hosted with Mayor Barbara Arnott a public forum to discuss the future of the Wellesley Road Centre and the health care dispensed from that facility. The turnout was strong … and so were the opinions expressed.
In his regular commentary on Radio 2ZB, Robin Gwynn summed up the meeting quite nicely and also — to my way of thinking — framed the issue accurately for those facing the future. His comments are reproduced below. He suggests the real issue going forward is the extent and quality of public health services to be delivered in Napier, as opposed to any precise location in the city. In other words, what is critical is the level of service, not preserving Wellesley Centre.
That said, the overwhelming consensus at the forum, expressed by virtually unanimous support for a motion put by David Bosley, was that these services should be once again provided on the hill out of a re-claimed Napier Hospital building. People didn’t seem swayed by the comments of the former building engineer for the Napier Hospital, who described the inadequacies of the building for its intended purposes!
Political leaders in Napier are asking for trouble if they don’t deal with the Napier Hospital reincarnation forthrightly. It doesn’t appear that elected officeholders representing Napier hold any expectation that the empty hospital will be part of the solution … neither Chris Tremain nor Barbara Arnott did more than noncommittally acknowledge the passed motion as an expression of the group’s sentiment.
If they do think the hospital proposition has legs, they should publicly insist to the DHB that the option be fully vetted and seriously considered. If they don’t insist, there’s little chance that the option will be examined, public meetings or not.
And if they do not think the hospital option has a chance, they would be wise to amputate that leg now, before the infection spreads to the broader body politic! The benefit of an early amputation is that it would quickly focus public debate on the issue that counts most — the types and levels of public health service that should be provided in Napier.
Here are Robin Gwynn’s comments …
“Last week I was suggesting that there was nothing very democratic about National’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, on which submissions close tomorrow week.
Today the boot’s on the other foot, and I want to warmly applaud local National MP Chris Tremain for promoting democracy by calling a grassroots public meeting in Napier on its current public health situation. The Community Hall at Clive Square was full to bursting, and some folk (including my wife) arrived and just slipped away again because they couldn’t get in.
That goes to show how much the initiative was appreciated – and needed. The Commissioner-led DHB should have called such a meeting before it wrote last November to relinquish the lease on the current Wellesley Road centre after it expires in a couple of years time. It didn’t understand the need. ‘Barbara’s committee’, as its chairman aptly called it, the Council committee seeking to further Napier health, should have called such meetings, if it claims to represent the city’s views. But it prefers to act behind closed doors.
So congratulations to Chris Tremain, who did understand the need – and acted.
At the meeting, he was able to reassure us that the DHB’s undertakings to replace Wellesley Road by a Napier facility at least equal to it, and hopefully better, are still in place. Those undertakings were hard won by the efforts of the people of Napier as a whole, particularly those of the Napier Public Health Action Group. (The Mayor must have had a ‘senior moment’; she never mentioned it.)
The need to keep the public in the loop through open democratic procedures is absolute.
For the good of public health care in all Hawke’s Bay, what’s needed now is to get the new or revamped centre, wherever it is located, combined with the new elective surgery facility that the Minister has promised. That combination is what Wellesley Road was supposed to have in the first place. And it’s urgently needed.
That’s my thought for the week. I’m Robin Gwynn.”