Date: 24 August 2012
GPs Are On The Move To Create A New Health Hub For Tokoroa
Tokoroa Primary Care, Medicentre and Caldwell and Simpson will move to a new primary care space at Tokoroa Hospital in early 2013 as part of an ongoing commitment to improve access to health services and build a better health system in Tokoroa.
Waikato DHB, Midlands Health Network, South Waikato District Council and Raukawa Charitable Trust worked with community groups and the wider public to review the current capacity of health services in South Waikato. Co-locating the three general practices with Tokoroa Hospital is the first positive step in making sure patients receive good quality health care services now and in the future.
Midlands Health Network chief executive John Macaskill-Smith says it is of huge collective concern that the health status of people living in Tokoroa is currently the poorest in the Waikato DHB district, and it is poorer for Māori and Pacific Island people.
“In a recent health profile, we found that people in Tokoroa don’t live as long as New Zealanders on average,” said Mr Macaskill-Smith.
“Also, diseases like diabetes and rheumatic fever are much more common in South Waikato, and 29 per cent of the population smokes. Hospital services are used more often than in other parts of New Zealand, and general practice services are used less.”
“There is no excuse for this when you look at the total amount of funding and resources available for the community”.
Further complicating things is an ageing workforce, an ageing population, and ongoing difficulties in recruiting doctors to the region.
“We simply can’t continue doing the same things. We need to make changes now in order to build a sustainable health system that meets the health needs of both the community and health providers,” says Mr Macaskill-Smith.
The new space at the hospital will create an environment that better services patient needs but is also more attractive for staff to work in.
“Although we are not asking the hospital staff and local GPs to integrate with each other, this will create future opportunities to integrate between primary and secondary care, to share resources where suitable and streamline referral processes for patients,” says Mr Macaskill-Smith.
Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said she supported the move. Having the GPs at the hospital is a big step to developing integrated care and sends a positive signal to the community that the hospital remains an important ‘hub’ for provision of local health care.
“It truly brings services to a co-located space and by its nature will help bring about change," says Mrs Adams.
"Council is pleased to see positive actions being taken by the DHB and Midlands Health Network to ensure our primary and secondary health services are maintained," said Mayor Neil Sinclair. "This Council has been advocating for an integrated centralised health care facility in Tokoroa for years. It is great to see that it is now happening.
"This move alleviates the concerns we have had around the sustainability of general practices in Tokoroa and removes the threat of the hospital being closed which has been a major concern for our residents. The current situation is not sustainable and changes have to be made,” continued Mayor Sinclair.
“We look forward to working
through these changes with those involved to consolidate the
delivery of health services in the long term."
About Waikato District Health Board and Health
Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 372,865 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6000 people.
Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $701 million and 5238 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.
A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.