Urgent Doctors gets funding boost

Dunedin Urgent Doctors and Accident Centre general manager Adam O'Byrne says the centre is...
Dunedin Urgent Doctors and Accident Centre general manager Adam O'Byrne says the centre is working to shore up services. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A funding boost for the Dunedin's Urgent Doctors and Accident Centre means its services are safe from cutbacks in the immediate future.

General manager Adam O’Byrne said he was "very much" pleased with the boost, although the centre is not out of the woods yet.

Dunedin’s sole provider of after-hours care warned earlier this year it could be forced to reduce its current opening hours of 8am to 10pm.

Mr O’Byrne said in January the centre would need to make decisions about winding back services in April unless the government stepped in to help.

Yesterday he confirmed Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora (HNZ) had granted a short-term boost via WellSouth Primary Health Network.

"This extends us well past the next three months, well into winter."

The centre had experienced a record year in 2023, taking pressure off the hospital emergency department and other clinics by seeing nearly 30,000 patients.

Neither HNZ nor WellSouth wanted to see any reduction in the service, he said.

The centre also had some medium-term funding goals it was working on.

It was a positive and collaborative effort after a long struggle trying to get the other parties to the table on the issue.

"I appreciate that there's approvals and a process to follow.

"All the hard work is starting to show.

"We're diligently doing that and we'll make sure that we're fighting for our patients and to keep the services as they are," he said.

Funding needed to bridge the period before the new Accident Compensation Corporation urgent-care contract under review was ready — likely next July.

Mr O’Byrne said he was willing to wait as the new contract needed to be fit for purpose.

He was now more confident the centre would get to that point.

Demand for services was continuing just as strongly as last year.

The centre was also looking at making some changes, and hoped to expand some services in future, for example by increasing the fracture clinic to five days a week, and providing more immigration medicals.

"We're open and we're working towards really shoring up our services".

A combined statement from HNZ and WellSouth said the organisations were working with the centre in a number of areas to ensure the sustainability of the service longer term.

"We will evaluate closer to July how the service is progressing, and the joint work being undertaken, before any decisions are made about further financial support."