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I’m relieved neurosurgery services will continue from Dunedin.

This has been a long and arduous process, but the advisory panel has made the right decision for our region.  Retaining the Dunedin-based service was vital.

The Acting Director-General of Health announced the Dunedin based service will be kept earlier today.

The possibility of all six neurosurgeons being based at Christchurch was always going to be a tough sell for the Ministry of Health since it was first put forward but we now have a positive result.

I am particularly pleased that the wide public support for this campaign has been recognized, and I thank everyone who took the time to sign a petition or write to the advisory panel with their concerns.

By the time you read this, the expert panel on neurology services in the South will have heard the views of the local population.

The meeting today at Stadium Southland is the culmination of a lot of effort by the Otago and Southland communities to have a say in the final outcome.

I was pleased to be able to accept a 45,000 signature petition last week calling for the retention of neurosurgery services at Dunedin Hospital.

I was also heartened by the comments of the Minister of Health Tony Ryall that he would take a lot of convincing that there shouldn’t be neurosurgery services for Otago and Southland people.

We now have to wait for the final recommendation of the panel.  But thanks to you, it won’t be an arbitrary decision.

We need to look at the best way to deal with delivery of neurological services in an area that covers one-quarter of New Zealand’s land mass.  The Director General of Health will be persuaded by logical argument and in that respect the “golden hour”, and the importance of having services available to a large geographical part of NZ is a compelling argument.

I have also had discussions with the Minister of Health and supported the Otago initiative to keep an operational capacity in Dunedin.

The Southern DHB has made strong representations on this issue, and presented a very good case for retaining neurological services in Dunedin.

I think it is also important to note that of those DHBs agreeing with the Christchurch-based model, Nelson Marlborough DHB currently sends 30% of their patients to Capital and Coast DHB, and the South Canterbury DHB has no preference between Christchurch or Dunedin.

Only West Coast DHB and Canterbury DHB have specifically supported the single site (six neurosurgeons in Christchurch) model (South Island Neurological Services report, 14 April 2010).

The decision is now in the hands of the acting Director-General of Health, and I would encourage those wanting to have their say to make representations to him.

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Authorised by Eric Roy, 97 Dee St, Invercargill

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