Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Southern Businesses urged to support Neurosurgery Campaign

March 2012
John Scandrett CEO. Otago Southland Employers Association

The South's business community is being urged to back the campaign to raise $3 million for neurosurgery.

Otago Southland Employers Association (OSEA) chief executive John Scandrett said the industry organisation was taking the "quite unusual" step of petitioning its members to support a fundraising effort.

The Neurological Foundation and University of Otago are fundraising for a centre of academic excellence in neurosurgery at the university; the head of the research unit would work as a third neurosurgeon at Dunedin Hospital.

An article in next week's OSEA magazine, Update, urges the association's 1480 members to get behind the campaign.

Neurosurgery was a "stand-out case" for financial support, Mr Scandrett said.

It made sense for business to support clinical services in the South, to attract good employees and support existing employees' and clients' health needs.

The region's health service was one of several factors weighed up by prospective residents, alongside arts, wildlife, education, and culture.

In addition, the research opportunities afforded by the research unit were a potential boost for the economy.

Mr Scandrett acknowledged Southern businesses were giving less to charity at present because of the recession, but pointed out the manufacturing sector was doing well at present.

There was little doubt the "key service" of neurosurgery would have been taken from Dunedin in 2010 had people not backed the first neurosurgery campaign, in which the OSEA also took a keen interest, Mr Scandrett said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said businesses would benefit in several ways by backing the campaign.

To grow the South's economy, the region had to offer "world class" health services, he said.

Having the research and teaching unit would strengthen the Otago Medical School and augment Dunedin Hospital as a teaching hospital, Mr Christie said.

The research element of the unit boded well for Dunedin's health services technology business sector.

Businesses in the South tended to be small and community-oriented rather than "faceless big corporate organisations with headquarters that are all located outside of the city".

This meant they were more likely to support a campaign which had such direct local benefit, he said.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz