Af­ter­hours health­care up­date soon

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - PAM JONES [email protected]

CEN­TRAL Otago res­i­dents should have an up­date on changes to the dis­trict’s af­ter­hours health­care ser­vice by Christ­mas, South­ern Dis­trict Health Board di­rec­tor Lisa Ge­stro says.

But Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says she still has con­cerns about the is­sue and is call­ing on health Minister David Clark to have ‘‘ur­gent in­put’’.

A state­ment from Mr Clark’s of­fice said ‘‘the Minister is aware of the is­sue in Cen­tral Otago, but it is a mat­ter for the South­ern DHB in the first in­stance’’.

The board’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, strat­egy, pri­mary and com­mu­nity direc­torate, Ms Ge­stro, said this week the SDHB con­tin­ued to work with other health ser­vice providers to find ‘‘a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion’’ to af­ter­hours ser­vices for Cen­tral Otago.

‘‘We are mak­ing good progress and hope to pro­vide an up­date be­fore Christ­mas.’’

When con­tacted by the Otago Daily

representatives from Wel­lSouth and Cen­tral Otago Af­ter Hours de­clined to com­ment.

Cen­tral Otago’s af­ter­hours health ser­vice changed on Novem­ber 1, when its GPs stopped pro­vid­ing af­ter­hours care be­tween 10pm and 8am, cit­ing fi­nan­cial and staffing is­sues.

Now pa­tients need to ei­ther call 111 or re­ceive ad­vice about treat­ment op­tions through the tele­phone triage ser­vice they have al­ways ac­cessed by phon­ing their GP num­ber.

Pa­tients us­ing that ser­vice will be ad­vised whether they should phone 111 and pos­si­bly be taken to Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance or wait to be seen by a GP the fol­low­ing day.

Mrs Dean and Cromwell GP Dr Greg White have spo­ken out about their con­cerns about the ser­vice, which they say could put pa­tients at risk.

Mrs Dean said this week: ‘‘De­spite the best in­ten­tions of ev­ery­one in­volved, I am con­cerned that there is an el­e­ment of risk and that a pa­tient need­ing ur­gent sup­port may fall through the cracks and not re­ceive ad­e­quate treat­ment due to the re­duced ser­vices avail­able.

‘‘I have no doubt that St John am­bu­lance and oth­ers in­volved in pro­vid­ing af­ter hours care be­tween 10pm and 8am will do their best for pa­tients in the Cen­tral Otago area, but be­lieve that the cur­rent gaps in ser­vice pro­vi­sion are not an ideal sit­u­a­tion and need rec­ti­fy­ing’’.

Cen­tral Otago GPs and med­i­cal cen­tre man­agers con­tacted by the Otago Daily have ei­ther de­clined to com­ment or not re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment.

But Alexan­dra GP Dr Su­san Macpher­son, who at­tended a pre­sen­ta­tion by Cen­tral Otago Health Ser­vices Ltd chair­man Al­lan Kane at an Alexan­dra, Clyde and Dis­tricts Busi­ness Group meet­ing last week, re­sponded to some ques­tions from the floor about the af­ter­hours sys­tem. She au­tho­rised the Otago Daily

to re­port her com­ments, say­ing it should be noted the man­date of GP prac­tices was to help their reg­is­tered pa­tients and that many of the problems with pro­vid­ing af­ter­hours health­care came from the num­ber of out of town vis­i­tors dur­ing busy pe­ri­ods.

She said Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal had ‘‘very good’’ doc­tors and pro­vided ex­cel­lent treat­ment for pa­tients taken to the hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance af­ter hours.

The skills of St John staff and vol­un­teers had con­tin­ued to im­prove over the 30 years she had been a GP and ‘‘they are now peo­ple with pro­fes­sional train­ing, sim­i­lar to ours’’.

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