Wait drags on for Rangiora after-hours clinic


Rangiora residents deserve to know when a new after-hours medical centre will finally be built, local MP Matt Doocey says.

After hours . . . An artists impression of the proposed new after hours facility to be built at...
After hours . . . An artists impression of the proposed new after hours facility to be built at the Rangiora Health Hub. Image: Supplied by South Link Health Group
Doocey, the Associate Health Minister, welcomed news that South Link Health Group has obtained a consent to build a new medical centre at the Rangiora Health Hub on Ashley St.

But the not-for-profit health provider has yet to announce when the build will start or set a timeframe for its completion.

The community has been pushing for an after-hours medical clinic for more than five years.

The Ministry of Health entered into an agreement with South Link Health Group in 2021, following a petition calling for after hours healthcare being presented to the former Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) two years earlier.

It was initially announced the new facility would open in 2022, but the project has been beset by delays, partly due to Covid.

‘‘It is now time the community got some clarity for when construction will start and when it will open because the community has been waiting for a long time,’’ Doocey said.

A South Link Health Group spokesperson said the recruitment of medical professionals remains a challenge.

‘‘There just isn’t enough GPs to go around,’’ she said.

‘‘We are in a good position of being a not-for-profit, which is a real point of difference for us.

‘‘But it doesn’t make it any easier.’’

The provider has been busy completing the merger of two medical practices and future proofing the operation ahead of building the new medical centre, the spokesperson said.

Now known as Rangiora Medical, the practice will continue to operate from two locations, Good St and Victoria St, until the new facility opens.

Doocey said the Government increased funding in the latest Budget for the training of GPs.

It will allow for more places at the Auckland and Otago University medical schools, while a new medical school was opening at Waikato University ‘‘with a focus on serving rural and regional New Zealand’’.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said he kept in regular contact with South Link Health Group and hoped to hear an update soon.

‘‘The new centre, which received a building consent last month, will mean our residents have access to extended hours of medical care as well as high-tech imaging radiology right here in North Canterbury.

‘‘This project is the result of huge investment and commitment from South Link Health Group, Pacific Radiology and the local GPs.

‘‘There is no doubt Rangiora Medical has faced its fair share of setbacks, but the passion and dedication from those involved in this project has been unwavering.’’

While there is limited after hours provision in North Canterbury, for now most residents are having to travel into Christchurch for urgent care.

South Link Health Group, which is a network of 26 medical practises, is responsible for funding and constructing the new facility.

It will include full radiology services (ultrasound, CT and MRI scans), GP services, a pharmacy, and urgent after hours healthcare.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.