31 Aug 2012

Plan to shut Porirua after-hours clinic overnight

10:38 pm on 31 August 2012

An after-hours medical centre in Porirua may soon be closed overnight.

A plan has been put forward by a working group, the Integrated Care Collaborative, which is looking at all aspects of healthcare in the Wellington region.

The proposal is to shut the clinic from 10pm until 8am and replace it with two roving paramedics.

A doctor who works in the clinic one night a week says the system could result in huge delays for patients waiting to be seen.

Rob Kieboom says that could be very dangerous for many patients who present overnight, as it does not take long for symptoms to worsen at night.

Dr Kieboom says at least at the moment people waiting at the clinic are only metres away from a doctor.

The working group is completing a detailed proposal paper which will go out for public consultation in September.

The manager of Porirua Budgeting Services believes closing the medical centre will put a strain on some families.

Robert Antonia says families may be forced to travel to Wellington Hospital if they can't wait for the paramedics to become free, while some people won't be able to afford the transport.

Mr Antonia hopes the idea will come up against great opposition when it goes out for public consultation.

But Porirua's mayor says he is interested to hear more and believes the community will be too. Nick Leggett says people need to keep an open mind, but also ask hard questions about the motivation to change the service.