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Physio Shortages Mean Changes to West Coast DHB Services

Physio shortages mean changes to services

A national shortage of DHB-based physiotherapists is leading the West Coast DHB to implement temporary changes to services for patients.

Allied Health Associate Director Jane George says ongoing challenges with recruiting, combined with staff leaving or retiring has meant the West Coast DHB is very short-staffed.

“A decision has been made to discontinue Hokitika-based DHB physiotherapy services in the short term, until we are able to recruit to that position. We realise this could provide difficulties for some patients, and we have sent letters to all current Hokitika patients with options for them.

“Referrals, if accepted under our usual triage processes, can be placed on the Greymouth outpatient waiting list. Or patients can contact one of the two private physiotherapy services in Hokitika,” she says.

Work is underway to encourage more new graduates to consider working in DHB settings, but many DHBs, like ours, are struggling to recruit.

“The West Coast DHB and our transalpine neighbours at the Canterbury DHB have been looking offshore for potential physiotherapy staff, with some success. That work continues but we expect it may still take some months before we have new staff on board,” Ms George says.

It is likely that many patients referred for outpatient physiotherapy across the district will experience longer than usual wait times.

“We are mindful that delays can be extremely uncomfortable for our patients and we apologise that we cannot accommodate everyone’s needs immediately. We are re-doubling our efforts to recruit. Where someone feels their health is being compromised by the delays, they should get back in touch with their general practice to discuss options.”


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