Staff at Carterton Medical Centre are searching from company. From left, receptionist Jaime Cayless, Dr Ximena Hunefeldt, Dr Craig Cherry, nurse Jess Whyte, nurse practitioner Corina Ngatai, and practice manager Sandy Moore. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER
An increasingly “critical” need for doctors has staff at Carterton Medical Centre appealing to the public for help in attracting people with the right qualifications to the area.
Practice manager Sandy Moore is relying on community involvement and word of mouth to lure qualified GPs to town after reluctantly closing the books to new patients this month.
“Our numbers have grown over quite a long period in line with the growth in Carterton,” she said.
“The demand we are put under now from the enrolment list meant we needed to close our books to maintain the best care for our clients.”
She said the attractive Wairarapa lifestyle has had people from urban areas move to Carterton “in droves”, which had seen the practice struggle to keep up.
However, getting GPs to move to rural areas was something she said was a common issue and not specific to Carterton.
The medical centre had already taken steps to meet the growing demand, such as providing nurse practitioners who are able to issue prescriptions.
However, Mrs Moore said it was “only part of the solution” and the situation was “now becoming critical”.
She has recently taken up the same approach the community took in 1981, when residents rallied to attract doctors to the area after it was left without a GP.
“The community were a major player in attracting the GPs we have here now.
“They really worked hard to encourage GPs who were in the region working as registrars to come to Carterton and set up a building to work out of.
“Three of them have stayed an excess of 20 or 30 years.”
She said the practice has had no problem retaining doctors – in fact, she was hoping to recruit two doctors who could meet the growing enrolments as well as replacing current doctors considering retirement in the next five years.
“Dr [Craig] Cherry has been our longest serving GP, starting Carterton Medical Centre in 1981.
“He has been looking after our community for 37 years.”
The traditional methods of recruiting had been time-consuming and delivered little results which led her to contact Carterton District Council and community group Go Carterton, which had helped spread the message on social media.
She said their help had been fantastic and described the community as “answering the call magnificently”.
“It’s an amazing empowering feeling to be in a community that’s linked together.”
She said the centre focused on providing a family-based care and would suit a doctor with a young family who was looking to continue that vibe.
“We do have a good knowledge of our patients and their lives, and we have that continuity of care because we’ve seen generations of families.
“It’s a lovely way to do medicine.”
New residents to Carterton who were not yet registered could contact the medical centre or their public health organisation for advice on which centres in the region were still accepting enrolments.