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Outpatient Services At Whakatāne And Tauranga Hospitals

Over the last three weeks our teams have been intensively planning for the various scenarios that we might have to deal with if we get any cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the Bay of Plenty.

Now we are turning our attention to trying to reduce the numbers of patients that come to our hospitals for outpatient visits. This is not a national requirement, but we have decided that it would be a very sensible thing to do and many patients are now contacting us to ask for their appointment to be by phone or Facetime, Skype or Zoom.

This is not an easy change to make and some outpatient consultations do require physical assessment or hospital tests. However, where it is safe and suitable for patients we are going to start trying out alternative ways to providing your care. This is something we have been working towards for some time, before the Coronavirus outbreak.

Because we’re trying to do this quickly, it may not be perfect at the start! We’re going to have to make significant changes to our internal processes to make this happen so please bear with us as there will be lots of learning as we begin this significant change.

We’ll be announcing more details as this develops, but for now our message is:

· If you have an outpatient appointment at Tauranga or Whakatane Hospital, please plan to attend as normal at this stage

· However, you may be contacted by the hospital about the possibility of a telephone consultation instead. If so, we will give you all the information you need at that point

· Some teams are going to try to use video consultations (e.g. through Skype, Facetime or Zoom). We will only do this where it’s appropriate, and where you feel able to use this technology, possibly with the support of a friend of family member

· People living in rural areas, especially in the Eastern Bay, don’t always have internet access or phone coverage so if this is you then don’t worry – just let us know if we make contact with you.

Our aim is make sure we can deliver the outpatient care people need in the most appropriate way without coming into hospital unless it’s necessary. We’d welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions as we develop this approach.

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