Healthcare services in Otago and Southland are likely to be delivered differently in the future and members of the public are invited to have their say about how they’d like to see primary and community health services configured across the district in the decades to come.


Southern DHB and WellSouth are hosting open forums next week to update the public on the status of the primary and community strategy project and to further gather input on the possible arrangement of healthcare services going forward. Primary and community services include first line services such as general practice and pharmacy, as well as services that patients may be referred to in the community, such as district nursing or midwives.


The open forums are being held in Dunedin, Invercargill and Cromwell on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week, October 10, 11 and 12.


“We’re aware that addressing the major challenges we are facing in health care – from meeting the needs of an ageing population to ensuring mental health services are accessible – requires us to deliver excellent care in a primary and community setting,” explains Chris Fleming, Chief Executive Southern DHB.


“Healthcare needs are changing and the creation of the primary and community healthcare strategy and action plan are vital complements to the new Dunedin hospital rebuild. We look forward to sharing what we have learned on the journey so far and hearing what people have to say about future models of care.”


Lisa Gestro, Southern DHB’s Executive Director, Strategy, Primary and Community Directorate says: “Our aim is to improve and strengthen primary and community services, keeping the patient and their whānau at the centre of care and finding the optimal arrangement of services that will ensure high-quality healthcare is available where, when and how people need it. 


“This is an exciting piece of collaborative work that will lead to better, more integrated services and greater consistency of access across the district.”


The primary and community strategy project was launched in July this year, with the aim of establishing a strategy and action plan through to 2030. Southern DHB and WellSouth are working with Ernst & Young (EY) to create the strategy and plan, which together will be a blueprint of primary and community services within the larger Southern health system.


“Better models of care will help to bring care closer to people’s homes, make best use of the resources we have and promote positive health outcomes,” says WellSouth Chief Executive Ian Macara. “We face challenges in the future but there are many opportunities too and working together we can help our communities to achieve and maintain good health.” 


Hearing from patients and the community is critical, Mrs Gestro says: “Focus groups, in-depth interviews and a wananga event have already been held with a total of around 80 patients and their whānau. These open forums are essential to ensuring we capture the views of even more people.”


The strategy and action plan are expected to be completed and communicated to the public by the end of this year.


Presentation materials

Presentation materials from the forums can be viewed here



Please email submissions to, or post to Primary Strategy and Community, Attention Kim Chalmers, Private Bag 1921, Dunedin.


Southern DHB/ WellSouth Primary and Community Strategy Open Forums


10th October: 1pm-2.30pm
Barclay Theatre, Otago Museum

419 Great King Street, Dunedin 9016


11th October: 1-pm-2.30pm
Ascot Park, Mararoa/Whitestone Room
Corner Tay Street & Racecourse Road Invercargill


Central Otago
12th October: 1pm-2.30pm
Cromwell Memorial Hall
Melmore Terrace, Cromwell 9310