It is hard to believe a week has passed since the Highlanders’ historic first Super15 win. I was lucky enough to be at Forsyth Barr Stadium for the semi-final win over the Chiefs. Suddenly anything looked possible. Although the final was tense viewing, my hunch proved right, my bets were well placed and I now look forward to a swag of other Wellington MPs shouting me dinner when parliament starts sitting again in a week’s time.
Not all news in the past fortnight has been so rosy. The loss of more training accreditation at Dunedin Hospital is needless and worrying. If the hospital were running like a well-funded, well-oiled machine, training wouldn’t be under threat. As it is, the Intensive Care Unit is no longer allowed to train specialists, and now Orthopaedics is out for 2016 too.
Medical and other healthcare professional students are being asked to bear with the situation. Just nuts. I am quite sure that if our scheduled hospital rebuild were underway, and health funding were adequate, management would be focused on providing the best training environment rather than constantly fighting fires or mopping up leaks (figuratively and literally).
Since time immemorial, Dunedin has trained a good portion of New Zealand’s health workforce. The quality of this training in no small way explains this country’s international reputation for medicine. But that is under threat.
By reputation, our small, tight nursing courses, medical schools and other health sciences work together and punch above their weight. We’ve always made health dollars stretch further in the South. But chronic underfunding and expiring buildings mean our reputation is under threat. It is time the government committed capital and laid out timeframes for the hospital rebuild.
A $300 million construction project will inject valuable cash into Dunedin’s economy but, more importantly, it will also ensure the future of our health science training. Modern facilities and a well-funded system will guarantee the ability to attract and retain the world-class specialists needed to teach the next generation of New Zealand health professionals.
Then, and only then, will Dunedin Hospital again function like a tight unit punching above its weight. Go, the mighty Highlanders.