After hours GP service set to close
After-hours GP care providers are staying tight-lipped about the future of the service.
Southern District Health Board executive director strategy primary and community, Lisa Gestro said the SDHB was told on Friday, June 8,that Central Otago After Hours Service Inc intended to cease operations.
‘‘We will work to support WellSouth who are responsible in ensuring its members fulfil their obligations to provide 24/7 care to patients. We do not anticipate there will be any gap in the service provision.’’
The Central Otago After Hours Care is a not-for-profit combined clinic, provided by eight Central Otago GP practices.
It is based at Dunstan Hospital in Clyde, but is not part of the hospital operation.
There is no emergency department in the region, so patients are triaged and directed to the most appropriate place.
A spokesperson for the service declined to comment but said they would issue a press release by the end of the week.
‘‘A final decision hasn’t been made so it’s just too soon to comment.’’
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said an urgent local solution to save the service needed to be found.
‘‘I’m shocked to learn that that the current after hours service in Central Otago is set to close in a matter of weeks .... After hours care is not a luxury – it’s a necessity ... Clearly the goodwill of the GPs has been exhausted.’’
A significant issue appeared to be inconsistency in funding, she said.
‘‘While Central Otago is expected to provide an overnight service, other after hours services across the DHB catchment are only required to operate up until 8pm, before the local hospital takes over.
‘‘Unlike other regions, there is no emergency department in Central Otago, so if this service folds local people and visitors to the area will be left with nowhere to turn.’’