Petition put in as QE decision nears

By Katie Holland

With a decision on the future of Rotorua's QE Health rehabilitation hospital just days away, a former patient has collected 1550 signatures in support of the service.

In October The Daily Post reported the not-for-profit hospital faced having to close its multidisciplinary intensive rehabilitation unit, which would have meant the loss of 30 jobs and left hundreds of chronically ill patients unable to access the world renowned treatment. A last-minute reprieve delayed the decision while the Ministry of Health carried out an urgent review.

QE Health general manager Peter Sharplin said he expected to get the ministry's final report this week but indications were it was "reasonably positive" and had recommendations for a way forward.

The unit needs 500 patients a year for the organisation to break even. Mr Sharplin said that after "crunching the numbers" he would take the report to a board meeting on Tuesday where a decision would be made on the hospital's future.

Meanwhile, on Monday, former patient Trudy Bassett handed Rotorua MP Todd McClay a 1550-signature petition in support of keeping the rehabilitation unit operating.

Ms Bassett, of Rotorua, was treated for polio at the hospital as a child in the late 1950s. "I've spent a lot of time there over the years and hold a high regard for the place," she said.

When she heard the rehabilitation unit was under threat, she knew she had to do something.

"The staff there are so great it just really hit me. I said, 'my gosh, we can't let this place close down'," she said. "I was like a bull in a china shop."

Over the space of about six weeks Ms Bassett and her helpers hit the markets and supermarkets around town collecting signatures and leaving petition sheets in shops.

Mr McClay, who has been working closely with QE Health on this issue in recent months, will present the petition to Minister of Health Tony Ryall.

QE Health Patients Association Jacqui Aimers said she was rapt with the petition and hoped to get Ms Bassett involved with the association in future.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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