Calls for after-hours service at Rangiora Health Hub

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By SHELLEY TOPP

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) has ignored renewed calls for an after-hours emergency medical centre at the Rangiora Health Hub.

Rangiora resident Paula Thackwell says Waimakariri residents are not “ungrateful for the hub”.

But, she says with 50,000 people now living in Waimakariri an urgent need remained for an after-hours emergency centre which is what the community had originally sought.”

Five years ago the Waimakariri community lobbied for an after-hours emergency medical centre for the district. The push for the centre was led by Mrs Thackwell and Helen Hirst.

Together they set up a petition which identified the need for an emergency after-hours medical centre in Rangiora.

Last November the new $7 million Rangiora Health Hub was officially opened. However, there was considerable disquiet in the community that the health hub fell short of what was needed.

CDHB general manager planning and funding Carolyn Gullery says the Primary Health Organisation (PHO) services agreement requires general medical practices to have an arrangement with an after-hours care provider within 60 minutes travel time.

“After the general practices in Kaiapoi and Rangiora joined Pegasus PHO, the Christchurch-based after-hours service with the 24-hour surgery in Bealey Avenue became the after-hours service for Rangiora,” she said.

However, Mrs Thackwell believes a recent proposal to establish a 24-hour medical facility in Rolleston using a video link with doctors in Christchurch Hospital, could also work in Rangiora.

The proposal was put forward by the Selwyn District Council, the CDHB and St John.

The need for an emergency after-hours centre in Rangiora was highlighted again for Mrs Thackwell earlier this year when a hospitalised friend needed transitional care before returning home. She was told by a social worker at Christchurch Hospital that the health hub was fully booked with a waiting list. However after driving to the health hub she discovered only one of the four beds occupied.

Her friend was subsequently admitted to the health hub for two weeks’ care before returning home.

However, Mrs Thackwell has recently been told that respite care is to be discontinued at the health hub in favour of an extended maternity care service needed after Christchurch’s Burwood birthing unit closed earlier this year. Ms Gullery said the Rangiora Health Hub did not provide respite care.

“In Rangiora, respite care services are provided in aged residential care facilities. Four of the 16 beds within the maternity unit have been designated as ‘flexi-beds’ i.e. they can admit patients for reasons other than for birthing or postnatal care, such as medical observation and or post-operative recuperation.”

Access to these beds is determined by specialist services at Christchurch Hospital, she said.