News from West Coast Health Clinic – After Hours Medical Services Explained

Why is there no doctor available in Raglan on the weekends?

Our funding allows us to provide services 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday for a significantly reduced price for our registered patients compared to most medical clinics, $18 versus $45-$75.

There is no additional funding to provide services out of these hours. In recent years, we started providing early morning appointments and extended evening clinics to provide better access for our community, particularly for those people working in Hamilton and beyond which we provide at the reduced price despite the restrictions in our funding.

What after-hours services are available in the Raglan area?

We offer extended hours – 8am to 7pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Fridays. We also provide a 24 hour, 7 day a week service to patients requiring palliative care and for patients at the Raglan Hospital & Rest Home.

Our doctors also work at Anglesea Clinic on the weekends on a rostered basis. You will find one of us there approximately every 2nd weekend, more often on long weekends and public holidays.

After hours telephone advice is available by ringing Anglesea Clinic (8580800) or Healthline (0800611116)

Waikato District Health have a free online after hours service called Smarthealth – https://www.waikatodhb.health.nz/for-patients-and-visitors/smarthealth/online-out-of-hours-doctors/

Why do we work at Anglesea Clinic?

In return for Anglesea Clinic providing you with out of hours care, 7 days a week including public holidays, our doctors work shifts at Anglesea Clinic.

To see a local doctor on the weekend I am prepared to pay the same charge as at Anglesea Clinic. So why is this service not available?

There is not enough demand – for example in the month ending June 2017 only nine of our patients were seen at Anglesea or Victoria Street Clinics. It is not viable to be open on the weekends for such low numbers.

Surely the community would use your service more often if it were available on the weekend?

We operated Saturday morning clinics until 2008, our experience was that people were not willing to pay the higher consult fees and preferred to wait for a weekday appointment. Many of our Saturday morning appointments were being used for non-urgent medical concerns.

Other doctors have provided an after-hours service in the past – why not you guys?

Over the years individual doctors have offered informal after-hours services for periods of time. This model is not sustainable in todays medical climate. Nationally NZ faces a critical shortage of  GPs, which is forecast to worsen as our workforce ages. Our clinic’s primary focus is on providing a comprehensive and high quality service during the week. We believe this model is sustainable in the long term and will enable us to recruit well-trained nurses and doctors for many years to come. In addition, the clinic teaches medical students, junior doctors and nursing graduates, helping to promote rural medicine as an attractive career.

Rural GPs used to provide single-handed care to the whole community, what has changed?

These doctors were amazing; they viewed medicine as a lifelong commitment, for many their jobs came before their families and their own physical and mental health. We want to avoid burn out, a common problem in medical careers by giving doctors and nurses a better work/life balance. General Practice and medicine has also become exponentially more complex in recent years.

WCHC