Pressure's on for health shuttle cash

By John Maslin

Wanganui District Council will be asked to make a submission to Horizons Regional Council's annual plan asking for regional council funding for health shuttle services between Wanganui and Palmerston North.

The recommendation has come from council's community and environment committee when it discussed the provision of non-emergency health transport.

The issue was raised last year, with councillors asking for officers to prepare some options it could look at.

At the moment the service is provided by St John, which runs two shuttles for Wanganui people needing specialist medical treatment at Palmerston North Hospital.

The council recognises that the city's ageing population and more regionalisation of health services is probably going to mean a growing need for the health shuttle service.

A number of councillors agreed that the WDC role needed to be one of advocacy and bringing pressure to bear when it was needed.

Councillor Rob Vinsen said reforms to local government in the late 1980s put the responsibility of regional transport on to regional authorities and he said for that reason Wanganui should be asking Horizons to canvass community views in its annual plan.

Committee chair, Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan, said it was a national health funding issue.

"We're not prepared to take on a funding role but certainly prepared to take on an advocacy role," Mrs Baker-Hogan said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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