Af­ter hours GP ser­vice set to close

Central Otago Mirror - - OUR PEOPLE, OUR PLACE -

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

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.’’

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