Clinic set to open despite funding lack

Alexandra. Photo: ODT files
Alexandra. Photo: ODT files
The new urgent care clinic in Alexandra has received no support or additional funding from Wellsouth Primary Health Network or Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora.

A new seven-day-a-week urgent care centre is set to open in Alexandra next month.

The centre will be operated by HealthCentral in new facilities in Tarbert St. The new building is also set to house other services.

The centre would open on July 8, HealthCentral said in a media statement on Thursday.

The urgent care centre, which will be open from 8am-6pm, will operate under a system with no referral or appointment needed.

HealthCentral general manager Jenaya Smith said the urgent care centre and HealthCentral would be all a single business.

"Our urgent care centre is located downstairs and our planned care and physiotherapy services will operate from upstairs," she said.

"This split allows the least disruption to planned care service delivery. If an ambulance, or urgent walk-in presents, we have to somehow ‘squeeze’ the patient into our busy templates."

She said they were trying to keep prices the same or similar.

"It is widely accepted that rural general practices are underfunded so one of my key priorities is to ensure we are running a business model that is as efficient as possible. One of the ways we have achieved this, is to invest in upskilling our team to ensure all our resources are working at the top of their scope."

The centre would no longer be part of the Alexandra after-hours service.

She said given the centre would be open seven days a week there was no need to participate in any on-call rosters.

HealthCentral had made an offer to other practices in Central Otago to provide on-call services on their behalf.

"Ultimately, we are pleased to be able to offer the wider Central Otago patients an easy point of access for any urgent care requirements they may have," she said.

Patients will be triaged on arrival and seen by the most appropriate resource.

She said the new building has assisted the business in attracting new clinicians to the region.

"Over recent months, we have been receiving a lot of interest from people wanting to work for us which is great."

She did not say how much the new development cost but there had been no support or additional funding from Wellsouth or HNZ.

The business would continue to campaign for a fair share for its patients from the health budget.

"The Central Otago region can be assured that for many years we have been advocating for funding to reduce barriers and address the many rural inequities that exist — there are countless examples of services our patients have to pay for which those living in the urban areas such as Dunedin do not."