Health Care Homes' interest catches SDHB by surprise

The Southern District Health Board is dealing with a different sort of "housing" crisis - expressions of interest by GP practices in becoming Health Care Homes are higher than expected.

"Health Care Homes" is the term used for a new model of delivering primary healthcare services, as proposed in the SDHB/WellSouth primary and community care strategy.

Expressions of interest were sought last month from GP practices wanting to become Health Care Homes, and the response had been more enthusiastic than expected, SDHB strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro told a DHB commissioner's meeting yesterday.

"We've been over-subscribed, which is a nice place to be."

A panel would now assess the applications, discard those which did not meet the criteria and devise a marking system for those which did, before making an announcement.

That is expected to be in early July.

Any practices which missed out would be told why and given help to meet the criteria, Mrs Gestro said.

Final selection of Health Care Homes would try to ensure geographic coverage of the region, she said.

The meeting also considered the final draft of the primary and community care strategy, with SDHB commissioners welcoming the document and giving it final sign-off.

The Southern DHB is in discussions with Mercy Hospital about the private hospital taking some of its cardio thoracic patients.

Earlier this week the ODT reported that cardiac surgery services at Dunedin Hospital were under pressure due to a sudden influx of severely ill patients, causing a bed shortage in the intensive care unit.

SDHB commissioners were told yesterday that as a result the wait list for cardiac surgery had grown from around 25 to the "early 40s".

The SDHB was now in talks with Mercy about SDHB operations being performed there, specialty services executive director Patrick Ng said.

Two years ago Mercy was similarly called upon to help the SDHB clear its cardiac surgery wait list.

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