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Clear health goals the target for advocacy group

The Wānaka App

Sue Wards

17 April 2024, 5:06 PM

Clear health goals the target for advocacy group Health Action Wānaka founding members Lucy Middendorf, Monique Mayze, and Heather Clay.

A public hospital half an hour’s drive from Wānaka, no gaps in after hours health care, and easy access to GPs: Wānaka’s new lobby group has set some clear goals for the Upper Clutha and the group’s founding members mean business.

Health Action Wānaka (HAW), has received a “strong and positive response” to its launch, with an increasing mailing list of subscribers and many community members getting in touch to offer their knowledge, experience and skills, Monique Mayze (a communications practitioner and Food for Love board member) told the Wānaka App.

The other HAW steering committee members are Lucy Middendorf (local business owner and Community Networks board member), Nicky McCarthy (dietitian and Food for Love board member), retired GP Brigid Loughnan and social worker Heather Clay.

The group was formed to provide a community-led voice to ensure the people of the Upper Clutha receive “the health services they deserve both today and in the future”, as members of the Upper Clutha community step up pressure on officials to improve access to local health services.

HAW founding members attended last month’s meeting to discuss the pressure on local health services (organised by the Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board), which filled the Lake Wānaka Centre.

Read more: Community sends resounding message to health officials

“Our steering committee is embarking on a 'discovery phase' of engaging with stakeholders across the system, including meetings with representatives from Central Otago Health Services, WellSouth and Te Whatu Ora,” Monique said.

“We want to better understand the community's needs, the barriers to delivery, and what different stakeholders in the health system are willing to do to help meet the needs of our community.”

The group’s website outlines its short and long term goals. 

Within six months, HAW wants delivery of extended (6pm to 8.30am) publicly funded after-hours healthcare for the community; and the opening of Wānaka's primary birthing unit in Albert Town.

Read more: Renovation work begins on future Wānaka primary birthing unit

Within 12 months, the group wants a publicly funded blood-collection centre established in Wānaka so locals no longer have to pay for blood tests that people in other locations can access for free; increased resources to reduce wait times to see GPs; improved access to mental health services; and increased ambulance services to manage demand - especially during periods with high numbers of visitors.

Within ten years, the group wants to see a fully publicly funded hospital built in Cromwell to service Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes’ growing population.

Monique said these objectives are based on HAW’s current understanding of the community's needs and the healthcare system and they may change over time in response to community feedback and further research.

To gather information to lobby for these goals, HAW is asking people to get in touch and share their stories about barriers they've faced when seeking healthcare services.

People can visit the 'Resources' page of HAW’s website to access a google form where they can submit their story (anonymously if they wish).

PHOTO: Wānaka App