A community uproar over a proposal to close the Central Hawke's Bay Health Centre ward over Christmas and New Year has ended with Hawke's Bay District Health Board changing its mind.
Earlier this week, four Waipukurau doctors publicly stated their "strong objection" to a HBDHB decision to close the CHB Health Centre ward for two weeks over Christmas and New Year.
Doctors Andy Daun, Mohan Gaddipati, Paddy O'Brien and Bob Stephens called on the DHB to reverse the decision, which was made without any consultation with the local general practitioners, the registered nurses who work in the ward, or the Health Liaison Committee which represented the local community.
They said the closure of the ward would significantly affect residents, who would have to travel to Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings to visit and support family members needing in-patient care - patients who would usually have been cared for in the CHB ward.
However, following an urgent meeting yesterday, the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, Central Hawke's Bay's mayor Alex Walker and the Central Hawke's Bay Health Liaison Group reached an agreement to defer the temporary closure of the Central Hawke's Bay Health Centre's ward beds over the Christmas holiday period.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee said he recognised that engagement with the community could have been a lot better and had agreed, as a gesture of goodwill, to defer the temporary bed closures.
"We are now looking to the future and will be working with the CHB council and Health Liaison Group to work together to design health services in the area. Planning for this will begin next year."
CHB District mayor Alex Walker said she was "very upset" earlier this week, due to the way the intention for closure of the community's hospital ward for the Christmas period had been handled. She had fully supported the stance made publicly by the region's GPs.
"The Central Hawke's Bay community has fought repeatedly over more than 20 years for the provision of hospital beds in our district and these services make huge differences for patients and whānau."
However, she said she was now "very pleased" with the outcome of yesterday's meeting and was looking forward to working with the district health board and enhancing the relationship between the organisations.
Chairman of the CHB Health Liaison Group Ian Sharp, said the group would be working hard to develop and design services that would future-proof the needs of the Central Hawke's Bay community into the future.