Planning for change . . . Gathering to look over plans for
amalgamation later this month are (from left) Aurora Health
Centre doctors Janice Jensen, Jill McIlraith and Susan
Johns, South City Medical Centre doctors Sandy Ross and
John Mills, and business development consultant Andrew
Tucker, of Tucker Consulting. Photo by Brenda Harwood
The planned amalgamation of Dunedin general medical
practices Aurora Health Centre and South City Medical Centre is
part of a growing national trend.
''There has been a definite trend towards practice
amalgamations for some time, but that has accelerated
recently,'' Royal New Zealand College of General
Practitioners president Dr Tim Malloy said.
''A number of GPs have determined that the business model,
care and workforce requirements mean they need to work in
The amalgamated health centre, to be known as Aurora Health
Centre and owned by Aurora South Medical Ltd, will open later
this month in Macandrew Rd, South Dunedin.
It will join the smaller practice of GPs Dr Sandy Ross and Dr
John Mills, who have delivered medicine together for the past
30 years, with the larger structure of Aurora, which has six
doctors, a registrar, a team of nurses, and a practice
manager, providing a 3.2 full time equivalent (FTE) GP
The practice will incorporate eight doctors and a registrar,
most of whom will work part-time as GPs - delivering about
5.2 FTEs - while also pursuing other medical areas.
The centre will also incorporate allied health professionals,
such as counsellors and osteopaths, and will provide care for
about 6000 patients.
Aurora Health Centre founding partner Dr Jill McIlraith said
economies of scale, the opportunity to practice medicine in
teams, and succession planning all played a part in the
''We don't necessarily want to be a very large practice, but
to have enough people and support in a professional sense so
that ultimately our patients have someone looking after them
for the next 10 or 20 years,'' she said.
Dr Mills believed a structure which allowed female doctors to
have families and work part-time, or encouraged older doctors
to extend their careers, would be important.
Southern PHO figures show Dunedin has a wide range of medical
practices, from seven practices with a one or 1.1 FTE GP
service, catering for fewer than 2000 patients, through to
two practices with more than 10 FTE GPs, catering for up to
Southern PHO chief executive Ian Macara said there would
always be a market for a full range of practices but that it
was important that issues such as the ageing workforce,
succession planning and ongoing sustainability were
Many doctors had worked successfully in the small-practice
model for many years and there was no particular reason for
them to change, Dr Malloy said.
''However, having an expectation that someone would want to
`take over' the practice in the future may be unrealistic,''
Patients of larger practices might need to adapt to having
more of a relationship with a team of practitioners.
''However, it is hoped that the working career longevity of
individual doctors may increase as the individual burden on