Waitaki District Health Services


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Oamaru Health Shuttle Service - Survey & Community Meeting - 21st Feb 2024

Oamaru Health Shuttle Service - Survey & Community Meeting

Community meeting:

Please join St John Thursday 28th March, 5.30pm at the Brydone Hotel Moeraki Room for a Waka ora Health Shuttle Community Meeting

Aim: To get feedback and ascertain the community need of starting this service in the Oamaru Area.

The community need for transport to access healthcare is accelerating. Waka ora Health Shuttle is a free community service that transports people to and from essential medical and health-related appointments.

Community survey: 

Hato Hone St John Oamaru Area Health Shuttle Survey 

St John would really like to find out what are your thoughts about having a regular health shuttle providing transport to health appointments in our region. By completing this survey, you will help them determine our community needs and enable them to establish this service.

Survey link here: https://forms.office.com/r/brA7iQgH1j 

Download for print:  https://www.waitakihealth.co.nz/files/795/file/Hato-Hone-St-John-Health-Shuttle-Survey-Printable-pdf

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to oamaruareaoffice@stjohn.org.nz 

MEDIA RELEASE: Board Chair and Chief Executive transitions at Oamaru Hospital - 12th Dec 2023

MEDIA RELEASE:  Board Chair and Chief Executive transitions at Oamaru Hospital

The current acting Board Chair at Waitaki District Health Services Limited (WDHSL), Melanie Tavendale, will step down from the Board on 31st December to focus on her recently purchased business, Hub and Sprocket Cycles. 

She will be replaced as Board Chair from 1st January by Keith Marshall, who will be bringing his considerable hands-on knowledge of the hospital environment, having been the hospital’s Chief Executive for the past two years.  The Waitaki District Council is currently seeking expressions of interest for the vacant director position.

“It has been an honour and privilege to serve our Waitaki community on the hospital board”, said Ms. Tavendale. “People can rest assured that the Board is in good heart and looks forward to welcoming Keith as Chair.”

To further ensure ongoing continuity during the Board transition, WDHSL has appointed two of the existing senior management team, Andrea Cairns and Hugh Kettlewell, to be the interim joint-CE for the hospital.   “Having two-people cover that role is a good option in terms of splitting the workload more sensibly during this transition period”, said Mr Marshall.  “We are in the fortunate position that both Andrea and Hugh are very capable and talented senior managers.”

The Board will consider a permanent appointment to the CE role once the future direction of the health reforms under the new government becomes clearer.


Contact for comments:

Keith Marshall                                                   Mel Tavendale

Chief Executive, WDHSL                                  Acting Chair, WDHSL

027 348 3486                                                    022 123 9870

MEDIA RELEASE - Public Apology to the Talanoa Family - 15th Nov 2023

Public apology to the Talanoa family for shortcomings at Oamaru Hospital

In August 2023 the Health and Disability Commission (HDC) published a report relating to the care provided to 13-month-old baby at Oamaru Hospital in 2019 and the process in place for the transfer of the critically ill baby.  That report identified a number of shortcomings in the care provided in terms of the hospital’s oversight and processes around the care given, the state and provision of equipment needed, and also in respect to the treatment delivered by a doctor and two nurses.

Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) have met with and unreservedly apologised to the Talanoa family in respect to the treatment provided to their baby at Oamaru Hospital.  “Our hearts go out to the parents and wider family for the distress caused; this is a truly awful situation for which we offer our sincere condolences”, said Keith Marshall, Chief Executive of WDHS. 

Today Oamaru Hospital also offers this public apology to the Talanoa family for the shortcomings both in care provided to their baby, and in the lack of support provided to the Talanoa Family following the tragedy.  

“The baby’s illness was clearly an extremely serious one with a high mortality, as was identified in the HDC report.   As an organisation we are heartbroken that more should have been done and the HDC report made very clear what the shortcomings at Oamaru Hospital were.”

Waitaki District Health Services fully accepts the HDC’s findings. Since this incident in 2019 Oamaru Hospital has made numerous changes to their clinical practices and processes and has put in place all of the HDC’s recommendations.  

“For our part, WDHSL was also heartened by the HDC’s further recommendation to Te Whatu Ora to investigate the establishment of a National Transfer Desk around urgent care matters; this would make a big difference for patient care in rural hospitals, and elsewhere, and would likely have had an impact in this tragic situation also.”

15th November 2023

[ ENDS – no further comment will be made by the hospital ]

Oamaru Hospital ED Closed Saturday and Sunday Nights 12th/13th August 2023 - 11th Aug 2023

Oamaru Hospital ED will be closed both Saturday and Sunday nights this weekend

  • Oamaru Hospital will be closing its Emergency Department (ED) on both Saturday and Sunday nights from 5pm to 8am over the coming weekend of 12th and 13th August. This is due to ongoing Doctor shortages nationwide.  Even so, the ED will be open between 8am and 5pm over the weekend.
  • Anyone in need of emergency care during Saturday or Sunday night should call the on-call GP in the first instance, or if it is really serious, then an ambulance should be called.
  • St Johns ambulance has been alerted to the situation.  Local GPs and residential care facilities have also been advised.
  • As a result of the limited Dr coverage this weekend, our ward patients will also be assessed and potentially might be relocated to Dunedin Public Hospital if needed to ensure their ongoing clinical safety and care, though we will try and minimise that as best we can.  Ultimately, ensuring the clinical safety and wellbeing of our patients is our overwhelming focus.
  • Oamaru Hospital has been working closely alongside Te Whatu Ora for the past few weeks to address this looming Dr shortage, but in the end Te Whatu Ora was unfortunately unable to provide a Dr to alleviate a closure.  While we have tried to minimise the impact and length of closure as best as we are able in the circumstances, we are still left with no option but to close in order to ensure the clinical safety of our patients.  This was, and is, a situation that none of us want to find ourselves in. Equally, with the current nationwide Dr shortages, Te Whatu Ora tell us there is nothing they can do.

Oamaru Hospital: Emergency Department temporary closure Monday 31 July 2023 - 5PM - 28th Jul 2023


Oamaru Hospital will be temporarily closing its Emergency Department and restricting inpatient access from 5pm Monday 31 July 2023. This is due to doctor shortages.

The community is advised to call 111 in an emergency. For non-urgent care, patients can contact the on-call GP service (03 434 9444).

Patients requiring an admission will be transferred to Dunedin Hospital during this time.

We expect the Emergency Department will be operational again from 08:00 on Tuesday 1 August.


Helen Algar to Retire from Board of WDHSL - 4th May 2023

Helen Algar to Retire from Board of WDHSL

Helen Algar to Retire from Board of WDHSL

Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) is saddened to announce the pending retirement of Helen Algar QSM from its Board at the end of June.  Ms Algar has been a long-standing Board member having served for over 10 years and is currently the Board Chair.

Oamaru Hospital Chief Executive, Keith Marshall, said “Helen will be hugely missed by us all.  She has been an absolute rock for our hospital.  And, on a personal level, Helen has been an absolute delight to work alongside as Chair; her insight and commitment to our community and to our hospital, staff and patients, has been enormously inspiring to me.” 

The Mayor of Waitaki District Council, Gary Kircher, also paid tribute to Ms Algar.  “I know I speak on behalf of Council and for our wider community when I say that Helen has been a stalwart and unrelenting champion for our hospital.  She has had an unwavering commitment to securing the future of our hospital and its essential role in the health services for our community.  I am personally very pleased that she decided to stay as Chair of the Board to see the job through.  Our community owes Helen a huge debt of gratitude for all her efforts over many years.”   

Ms Algar extended her personal thanks to Mr Marshall and the Oamaru Hospital team for their ongoing hard work and efforts in overseeing the turnaround at Oamaru Hospital over the past 18 months.  “Having sat on this Board for such a long time, I can safely say that Oamaru Hospital is in the best hands possible.  Indeed, I am hugely grateful that Keith and the team’s efforts pulled off the amazing job they did around our securing new funding contract.” 

“Ongoing Council support for the hospital has been incredibly important throughout my time on the Board”, said Ms Algar.   “Before I left the Board, I wanted to make sure that Oamaru Hospital was in good shape and had a solid future.  It is extremely satisfying to me personally to know that after years of work behind the scenes, we have at last, properly secured the future of our local hospital through our new funding contract. Accordingly, now feels like the right time for me to step aside and let others take the reins and guide the future of Oamaru Hospital.” 


Contact for further information:

Helen Algar, Chair, Waitaki District Health Services

Phone: 021 134 2003

Gary Kircher, Mayor, Waitaki District Council

Phone: 021 463 546

New Funding Contract Announced for Oamaru Hospital - 28th Feb 2023

Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) is delighted to announce a new funding contract with Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand for the provision of health services based at Oamaru Hospital.

The new contract provides a significant funding increase of $3.5m per annum over the previous levels of around $11m per annum.  

WDHS Chair, Helen Algar said, “Our new contract with Te Whatu Ora provides much needed and ongoing funding security for Oamaru Hospital.  This new agreement gives us certainty around the continuity of health care services for our Waitaki community.”

Keith Marshall, Chief Executive of WDHS, highlights the hard working and dedicated staff at Oamaru Hospital.  “There are an amazing group of people working at Oamaru Hospital who have continued to provide a high level of health care through many years of demanding circumstances, and everyone can be very proud of their ongoing commitment to our community. I know I am.”

“The priority for WDHS is to address the significant pay gaps faced by all our staff so that we can properly ensure the future of Oamaru Hospital. We want to ensure our staff are paid at the same level as their Te Whatu Ora colleagues. Pay parity will also assist in attracting new staff to Oamaru.”

WDHS has a close working relationship with Te Whatu Ora and Mr Marshall says, “Getting to this point has been incredibly complex and required significant analysis, extensive cooperation, and a positive spirit by all involved. It bodes extremely well for how we continue to engage with the health reforms for the benefit of our community.”

Ms Algar acknowledges the enormous effort by the WDHS management team to secure the new contract. “This team are incredibly passionate and have worked tirelessly to secure the future of Oamaru Hospital. We know our community will be pleased with this outcome.”

Ms Algar also extended her thanks to Waitaki District Council for their ongoing support. “The Council have remained enormously helpful and worked in partnership with us through this journey.  Their support has been invaluable.”

Mayor Gary Kircher said “Oamaru Hospital is an essential cornerstone of our community and that’s why we have backed them so strongly over the years.  The new funding contract that has been secured with Te Whatu Ora is a great result for all concerned, not the least the people of Waitaki!”


Oamaru Hospital will be offering more options for privately funded CT scans - 22nd Nov 2022

Oamaru Hospital will be offering more options for privately funded CT scans

After conducting an internal review of its CT scanning, Oamaru Hospital will be offering more options for privately funded CT scans. 

All specialist referrals for CT scans will carry on as usual.  In the interests of ensuring proper access to CT scans, Oamaru Hospital will be working with GPs to see that the proper clinical pathways are followed.

However, under the current funding system, the reality is that a number of CT scans aren’t covered by the funding that Oamaru Hospital receives for providing radiology services. 

In order to provide those CT scans to locals and not send people away to private radiology services elsewhere, Oamaru Hospital will now make them available on a privately funded basis by referral through a GP.  In practice, that might amount to only 100 to 150 scans out of the nearly 3,000 CT scans carried out currently every year. 

Currently, some privately funded scans are already undertaken at Oamaru Hospital though those have been few in number to date. 

The new approach starts in December 2022 and will extend the options available to local residents.


At this time, Waitaki District Health Services Ltd does not receive any bulk funding for their CT scanner and any referrals are processed through the appropriate clinical pathway by a specialist.   Any person wishing to receive a CT scan that does not fall within the guidelines of this clinical pathway will have the opportunity to pay privately or through their health insurer.  NB: Funding negotiations are currently underway with Te Whatu Ora.

November 2022

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