15 Sep 2016

Elderly struggling with Chch hospital services shift

9:13 pm on 15 September 2016

Some elderly Christchurch residents are being forced to pay more than $60 to taxi to hospital appointments, after their local services shifted to Burwood.

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Princess Margaret Hospital. Photo: Google Maps

In June, the Canterbury District Health Board started moving elderly and outpatient services from Princess Margaret Hospital in the south to Burwood Hospital, 16km to the east, as part of the government's $650 million hospital redevelopment plan in the region.

But the Save Princess Margaret Hospital action group said the Cashmere ward had the highest demographic of elderly in the city, and residents were struggling with the change.

Shirley Lefebvre and her husband, who are both in their 80s, purchased a complex in a retirement village in Beckenham, largely because of the elderly services that were provided at the nearby Princess Margaret Hospital.

Ms Lefebvre said she would struggle to get to Burwood Hospital if her husband fell ill, and she didn't have the sense of security she had had before.

Another Beckenham resident, 80-year-old Brain Davison, now has to catch two buses in a two hour round trip to get to hospital appointments in Burwood.

Brian's wife, Barbara Davison, said it had made things tough for the couple who, like many elderly, both can't drive.

"It's very difficult for us, and other people, I do know that because other people have spoken to me about it, and it's a struggle to get there as we say.

"If it's an early appointment at nine in the morning, it's quite tough."

The revamped Burwood Hospital in Christchurch

The revamped Burwood Hospital in Christchurch Photo: Supplied

The Canterbury District Health Board said it started looking at shifting services out to Burwood in 2010, because it found the hospital wasn't suitable for modern clinical practices.

That move was fast-tracked after the building sustained earthquake damage.

Save PMH action group chairperson Lee Sampson said the board needed to help improve accessibility to Burwood for those affected by the shift.

In a letter sent to board's chief executive, David Meates, Mr Sampson called for leadership in the area.

But Mr Meates said that wasn't necessary.

"Populations have been having to travel to Princess Margaret for many years, and if we look at that, most of the population won't be travelling anymore distance than they have had to in the past."

Mr Meates said Burwood Hospital was a state-of-the-art facility, that would provide excellent services to the whole of Canterbury.

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