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Urgent clinic a step closer

A proposed urgent care clinic is aimed at relieving the pressure on the Emergency Department at Wairarapa Hospital. PHOTO/FILE

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Wairarapa is one small step closer to getting an urgent care clinic.

Wairarapa’s District Health Board discussed the idea of a seven-day-a-week urgent care clinic for Wairarapa Hospital, which could help people with medical issues that can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment but do not require emergency care.

The proposed urgent care clinic would operate at the hospital until 9pm each day, with the emergency department continuing to cover primary care when the clinic was closed.

Liz Stockley of Compass Health asked the DHB for approval to “do a full business case on what a co-located urgent care service may look like”.

An urgent care centre had been opened alongside an emergency department in the Nelson and Marlborough region.

Stockley noted there were different models operating across the country, and there were a few things to consider.

“Is this the right solution for Wairarapa, and if so, what kind of model should we be looking at operating?

“An urgent care service where we have primary and secondary care working together to provide the most appropriate response to an individual who requires care is the way to go.”

Board member Liz Falkner asked Stockley about patient attitude – a roadblock to primary care solutions in the past.

“That was what made us have to stop doing this about 20 years ago,” she said.

“The nurses refused to do it because it was so unpleasant when they referred people to the general practitioner as opposed to emergency department.”

Stockley said there had been no patient-focused report as part of the proposal yet, but other clinics had seen happier staff on both sides – primary care and ED.

Higher integration and a reduction of acute services at the hospital was also a result of similar models.

She said a cost model would still need to be looked at if planning for the clinic went ahead.

Board member Adrienne Staples moved the request.

She said 20 years was a long time ago, and the clinic may not have been right for Wairarapa then, but it would be worth at least exploring options around it.

“We know that we’ve got pressures on the horizon that are not going to get any lighter.”

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