Med­i­cal cen­tre hours cut

Franklin County News - - Front Page - By FRANCES McA­DAM

Franklin res­i­dents seek­ing med­i­cal at­ten­tion at Pukekohe Fam­ily Health Care af­ter 8pm will have to head else­where from next month.

The med­i­cal cen­tre’s ac­ci­dent and med­i­cal clinic, cur­rently stays open un­til 10pm, 365 days a year.

That will change to 8pm on April 1, as lack of funds has forced the re­duc­tion in open­ing hours.

The cen­tre’s af­ter-hours ser­vice, which is self-funded, has been run­ning at a loss in re­cent months, de­spite han­dling over 14,000 pa­tients a year.

Pukekohe Fam­ily Health Care CEO Dr Se­lena Green says al­though the clinic is ‘‘ex­pen­sive to run’’ it is still a valu­able part of the com­mu­nity.

‘‘Many peo­ple use the ser­vice. It’s not just for those who in­jure them­selves [at that time] but also for peo­ple who do not have the time dur­ing the day to see the GP,’’ she says. The ma­jor­ity of af­ter-hours pa­tients ar­rive be­tween 5pm and 7pm, al­though some are there un­til 9pm.

This is where Dr Green says the prob­lems will be­gin with re­duced hours.

‘‘We’re not sure what to do when we close at 8pm, whether we let all pa­tients in un­til 8pm, or start turn­ing peo­ple away ear­lier,’’ she says.

Peo­ple need­ing care af­ter 8pm will now have to travel for at least 40 min­utes for help. The clos­est ac­ci­dent and emer­gency (A & E) clin­ics are at Botany Downs or Mid­dle­more Hospi­tal.

Dr Green does ac­knowl­edge that if a per­son’s con­di­tion is re­ally se­ri­ous they should be head­ing to a hospi­tal any­way, and not their lo­cal A & E.

Dr Green says fund­ing is some­thing that many clin­ics of­ten strug­gle with.

She says in­creas­ing the af­ter­hours fees, was con­sid­ered, but ‘‘there is only so much you can charge peo­ple be­fore they stop com­ing at all’’.

‘‘We have a com­mit­ted, long­stand­ing group of doc­tors and nurses at Pukekohe Fam­ily Health Care who want to serve the com­mu­nity, we just need the funds to be able to do it,’’ she says.

Coun­ties Manukau District Health Board and Pro­care are cur­rently looking at pro­pos­als for fund­ing a num­ber of af­ter-hours A & E clin­ics in the re­gion.

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