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Dawn of a new era in healthcare

With services stretched to breaking point, a new ‘state-of-the-art’ private hospital promises to increase access to public healthcare.

Selina Sutherland, the region’s only private hospital, announced this week that it would be expanding its facility in partnership with Matua Health Group [MHG].

Currently leading the development of several private healthcare facilities around New Zealand, MHG confirmed it had recently bought a block of land near Wairarapa Hospital on Te Ore Ore Rd, with the aim to house 10 beds, two operating theatres, and a highly anticipated MRI machine by mid-2025.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Konrad Schwaneke, who has fought for a new hospital and MRI in Wairarapa for years, said the new facility would see an influx of healthcare workers to the region.

“What else would attract specialists other than a brand new hospital?

“I’ve worked in Wairarapa for 20 years. A lot of doctors came and left. It made me realise it wasn’t an attractive place to work.

“The biggest impediments in Wairarapa’s health system are the facilities, not enough beds, and not enough theatre time.”

He said the new hospital should also see specialist services that have been lost over the years return to the region.

“We need ENT [ear, nose, and throat] surgeons, gastroenterologists, urologists, and oncologists.

“We have no trauma orthopaedic services in Wairarapa. If you break your arm, you have to be treated in Wellington.”

Selina Sutherland Charitable Trust board chair Dr Rob Dimock said it was evident the current private hospital would be unable to keep up with demand with Wairarapa’s population, already at 50,000, increasing.

“Even over the last two years, demand for services has exceeded what we expected.

“It seems clear we will quickly exceed pre-covid service levels.

“For several months, we explored options about how we could work together [with MHG] to provide more services locally, and our thinking has aligned.”

Wairarapa Te Whatu Ora interim district director Dale Oliff said the expanded hospital would benefit public healthcare services.

“It’s no secret that our surging population is outgrowing our hospital footprint.

“Development of a new private hospital will free up much-needed space on our campus for public beds.”

Selina Sutherland Charitable Trust director Jill Stringer said specialists had already expressed interest in the new facility.

“There is a health worker shortage all around New Zealand, but we have two years to recruit actively. Having a new, state-of-the-art hospital will be attractive to specialists.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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