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Speech: Visit to South Waikato Health Centre

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

1 April 2014

Visit to South Waikato Health Centre

Kia Ora. Thank you for inviting me here today to celebrate the newly developed South Waikato Health Centre.

It’s a great privilege for me to join you today.

The South Waikato Health Centre co-locates a number of health services here onsite at the Tokoroa Hospital.

Utilising two unused wards, the site has been transformed into modern facilities.

Besides the hospital, the health centre includes two GP practices (one of which is a merger of three local practices earlier this year), a pharmacy, Plunket, community midwives, podiatry, blood test collection and sample drop off, and other clinics and health services.

What particularly stands out to me is that this is a facility clearly developed in partnership with the desires and needs of the community.

In 2012 when the decision was made to co-locate here, a GP described the decision ‘as getting into bed with an elephant’.

"We are acutely aware if you jump into bed with an elephant, you could be squashed. The elephant doesn't intend to squash you, to be fair to the elephant," Dr Wiles said.

It looks as though the marriage is going well so far.

I want to acknowledge the people with the vision and enthusiasm to make this happen.

The Waikato District Health Board that has strongly supported this project with almost $2m of funding.

The Midland Health Network in particular has driven the locality planning, and made the decision to co-locate your three – now merged – practise within this health centre.

I am sure this was pivotal to encouraging other providers to join the co-location project.

Midland Health Network is at the forefront of building the future of general practice and primary healthcare in New Zealand.

The innovation of their model of care and commitment to integrated family health centres is well-recognised by the Government and the rest of the health service.

I should also note the considerable international interest in the work of Midland Health Network.

I would also like to acknowledge Raukawa and the Pasifika communities for their support in the development of the South Waikato Health Centre.

The dedication and hard work put in by these organisations, the wider community and district council have helped to ensure a strong foundation – a foundation for more integrated services, closer to home for the people of the South Waikato.

I am told tenants and patients are already enjoying the benefits of the new facility. It makes it so much more convenient for patients to have a range of services in the same place. And I am looking forward to having a look around.

The Government’s Health objectives are built around better, sooner, more convenient care – with all the elements that suggests of quality, timeliness and patients at the centre of care. And this makes sense.

We are living longer, more sedentary lives. This means more of us have chronic disease like diabetes, asthma, dementia and cancer.

The sooner clinicians can detect, treat or prevent these conditions, the better they can reduce the significant burden these conditions put on patients and the health system.

Our strategy to do this is clinical integration – providing joined-up care across primary and secondary services, with resources and interventions flowing to where they are most effective so patients get their care sooner and closer to home.

A huge amount of work is happening around the country as community and hospital clinicians work together to redesign how and where care is provided.

Clearly if more care can be provided upstream, in the community rather than hospitals, then that contributes to better health for the patient and the overall financial health of the system.

So our public health service is changing the way it delivers care. Step by step. Year by year. And it will look very different in the next ten years.

And you here in Tokoroa are well down that path.

What’s great about this is that Tokoroa and South Waikato are future proofing their health services.

This health hub concept you’ve created here feels sustainable and long lasting.

And there’s plenty of opportunity to use co-location for building more integrated care and for more DHB services to be provided here.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be here today.


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