18 Jul 2011

Angry crowd deplores any health cuts in South Taranaki

10:06 pm on 18 July 2011

About 2000 people have marched in South Taranaki to protest against threatened cuts to health services.

Angry participants told district health board managers at a community consultation meeting on Monday their proposals were unworkable, and lives would be lost if Hāwera Hospital was downgraded.

They object to losing inpatient beds and 24-hour emergency doctors at Hāwera Hospital, with the Taranaki DHB proposing to halve the number of beds at the hospital to 10, and move six of those to a rest home.

Inpatients would go to New Plymouth, 90 kilometres from Hāwera.

The board says the proposals would help to save $1.1 million.

Objectors pointed to the risk of explosions at the region's oil and gas processing plants, chemical accidents at fertiliser, meat and dairy factories, and accidents on farms.

Others say families in poor towns such as Manaia, Kaponga and Patea would find it very difficult to visit sick family in New Plymouth.

The DHB says the suggestions are proposals only and objections will be listened to.

Planning, funding and population health manager, Sandra Boardman, says the clear message from the meeting will help shape the eventual restructure of South Taranaki's health services.