The MidCentral District Health Board has pulled the contract to provide a community cancer nurse in our district, leaving a huge hole in services here for 400 cancer patients.
The funding cut is despite the board receiving an extra $19 million in new money this year from the Budget, taking the board's total funding to $614m for 2017/18 - an extra $158m in funding over the past nine years.
Our community deserved the best in health services, Tararua Health Group chief executive Sharon Wards said.
"This community is blessed with having a wonderful range of service providers, but why is the health board cutting this community nurse service? Cancer hasn't stopped," she said.
There are currently 400 people diagnosed with cancer in our community.
"They (MidCentral DHB) have pulled the funding, so I'll have to cobble something together," a frustrated Wards said.
Wards told the monthly meeting of the MidCentral District Health Board that the community was extremely passionate, resilient and genuinely wanting the best.
"I realise the health board have tough decisions to make, but we've some real issues and as a community we are struggling to look after ourselves."
Wards said it was one of the toughest times in her 20 years as a health professional in this town.
"Don't chip away at our means, we really struggle to provide the care this rural community deserves," she told board members.
MidCentral health board chairwoman Dot McKinnon said she was very mindful of what Wards was saying.
"We'd like to put more funding into primary health care, but running Palmerston North Hospital is costing more and more. But we are absolutely focused on supporting communities," she said.
"We are trying to get the most we can out of our health dollars."
However, Wards said there needed to be a continuity of primary health care.
"Don't push us too far because the cracks are widening," she warned.
Midwives in Dannevirke had 12 CYFS cases on their books, something unheard of before now, she said.
"This is indicative of what our community is struggling with," Wards said.
"Youth are struggling and our district has drug and alcohol problems and we have an ageing population."
Meeting Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott (National) on Monday, Wards said she wanted to see the Government rural-proof health services within our area.
"We want rural services close to home, but the reality is they're becoming further and further away and, in my role, I see very little from last week's Budget for rural health services.
"As a rural community of 17,000, I've seen things chipped away over the last 18 months.
"If you put all the people in rural New Zealand together that would be the second-largest city in New Zealand. But our DHB has made it pretty clear a lot of investment will sit in Palmerston North."
Scott said it was up to the DHB to allocate spending, but Wards said she would be looking to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and the National Government for answers and solutions.
Tararua District deputy mayor Allan Benbow said there was a serious disconnect between the health budget and our community and he would be urging his council to help in any way it could.