Can I just ring you?
For many years there was a "town roster" with each GP taking turns to be on-call for all the patients of those on the roster. This was extremely stressful for the on-call GP and was not particularly satisfactory for major emergencies, particularly after the loss of surgical services in Hawera Hospital. Smaller groups of GPs then established their own rosters and an A&E was set up at Hawera Hospital, which improved things for major emergencies but created conflicts and loss of continuity of care for patients.
When the A&E contract came up for renewal, a tender by the majority of GPs was at the time rejected by Taranaki Health in favour of one by White Cross. This arrangement initially appeared to continue the conflict and a separate GP after-hour single site was planned until it became clear that combining the Emergency service and the GP After-hours service at one site in co-operation would provide a more efficient and "seamless" emergency/after-hours service for South Taranaki with much of the medical "manpower" provided by GPs.
The decision to charge for GP type consultations (Triage groups 4 & 5) and surcharge accidents in these categories, enabled this amalgamation to succeed, while serious emergencies (Triage groups 1-3) remain free (funded under a TDHB contract).
Subsequently the contract to provide emergency services was taken over by SouthCare Emergency, the operating arm of the South Taranaki Medical Trust and all the GPs (not just those in the Trust) have continued an after-hours arrangement with SouthCare.
However, this arrangement proved unsustainable, with the TDHB contract plus all the income from charging the non-emergency 4 & 5 groups not covering the medical staffing costs for meeting the emergency service. From the 1st August a new system is in place with only emergencies seen and only by TDHB staff.
Patients of this (and other South Taranaki practices) are asked to attend the Hawera Hospital Emergency Department (ED) of the new hospital (on the side facing the old hospital, using the old entrance) ONLY for emergencies and truely urgent problems after-hours and weekends. Please note that if you attend the ED, you will be assessed but only essential treatment will be given. If you are not sure if you should attend, you may ring 0800 Healthline (0800 611 116) and a trained nurse will advise if you should. Non-urgent after-hours problems should NOT be seen at the ED as this will make it harder for urgent problems to be seen and make staff retention very difficult.
If you do attend the ED, you may face a considerable wait unless you have a serious emergency. Please NO NOT abuse that service or the staff (who try their best but are not responsible for the loss of on-site GP-After-hours services). If you do misuse or abuse ED, we all risk losing this service and our practice will not support you.
There is access to GP after-hours services up to 8pm every day in New Plymouth. However, if a one hour trip and an after-hours fee is not acceptable, the problem cannot be that important to you and should wait until the practice re-opens. If you do wish to obtain after-hours GP services in New Plymouth, you may attend:
WHY CAN'T I JUST RING MY GP?
The high "burnout" rate among rural GPs, not to mention the high divorce rate, is primarily related to excessive "on-call" expectations by their communities. As it is I am already on 24/7 for obstetric patients, back-up to midwives, for palliative cases and as a Medical referee. Any further demand on my time is not possible without risking the loss of this GP like the other 9 GPs who have left Hawera in the last two years.
Maternity patients should first ring the Maternity Unit at the hospital [(06) 278 9911].