23 Dec 2010

Attempt to reduce pressure on Thames doctors

12:57 pm on 23 December 2010

Doctors in Thames are to work in the local hospital in a pilot project designed to ease growing workforce pressures.

Waikato District Health Board says six Thames general practitioners will join forces with the Thames Hospital Emergency Department from next month to treat and discharge patients on weekends.

Waikato DHB has the country's largest rural constituency - including towns that struggle to recruit and retain doctors.

DHB change manager Grant O'Brien says the three-month pilot is about providing better support long term for family doctors, while paving the way for a closer working relationship with hospitals.

As well, he says it makes no sense to have two sets of lights burning on the weekend in any one location.

Thames Medical Centre is to remain shut on Saturday, its GPs rostered instead to work at the local emergency department on that day.

Care there will be free, whereas it was not at the medical centre, but the DHB does not expect that to have much effect.

It is hoping the pilot will ease workforce pressures in Thames, a region of 35,000 people which sees an influx of an extra 150,000 over summer.