Medical centre hours cut
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.