NC after-hours under review

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By SHELLEY TOPP AND ROBYN BRISTOW

New models of after-hours health provision in the Waimakariri and Hurunui districts are being looked at the by Canterbury District Health Board.

An initialising workshop could be held as early as December 14 to start the process of planning and shaping what that provision would look like, says Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey.

“I have been assured planning discussions will involve our community and we look forward to hearing more about this exciting development.”

Mr Doocey was commenting following a meeting he called on Monday night to provide an opportunity for Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) representatives to update the public about the area’s healthcare services and future plans.

The CDHB was represented at Monday’s meeting by Carolyn Gullery, general manager of planning and funding, and Greg Hamilton.

Ms Gullery told the meeting it was time for a rethink on “how we provide after-hours health care in Waimakariri”.

“We are looking at new models of after-hours care in this area, not just in Waimakariri but also in Christchurch.”

This would involve providing a mix of acute 24-hours surgery and booked after-hours services more broadly available across the district, she said.

Mr Doocey agreed it was time for a rethink and to build on the success of its mixed-model system.

“Our paramedic service is doing really well and the CDHB’s integrated health system is helping to keep people at home and out of hospital, with a range of successful models that are being picked up in other areas.”

“Some of the ideas that came up on Monday included a centralised booking system with GPs to offer after-hours provision and video consultations with a health provider at the other end of a television screen. All options are on the table,” he said.

Mr Doocey said statistics delivered at the meeting showed primary-health models like the Waimakariri paramedic service, where experienced paramedics visited residents at home, were resulting in less bed stays through the emergency system.

“Residents need to keep using the triage system by phoning their own GP’s rooms,” he says.

Ms Gullery agreed the Paramedics service had done really well and probably going forward “we still see it as part of the picture”.

Managing public healthcare was about trust.

“All of us working together to get the best possible outcome for Canterbury.”

“It is all about being flexible, responsive and learning to shift resources and reinvest them, she said.

“For example the money we no longer spend on aged care we can now spend on community-based services.”

Waimakariri was an area we said we would keep a very close eye on, Ms Gullery said.

During question time a woman told the meeting she had to take someone into Christchurch’s Bealey Avenue after-hours clinic three times during a long weekend to get bandages changed when this could have been done in Rangiora if the Health Hub was set up as an after-hours centre.

People spoken to after the meeting said Ms Gullery’s talk was short on detail and they were unclear how the changes she outlined would deliver the after-hours health care service the district needed.

One woman recalled the time she had been taken to the Bealey Avenue after-hours medical centre by ambulance, then had to get a taxi home to Rangiora at 2am. The trip home had cost her $90 and the care she received at Bealey Avenue could have been done at the Rangiora Health Hub if it was set up as an emergency after-hours centre.