Concern over doctor shortage
How often do you visit your GP?
Levin residents will be faced with a shortage of doctors to treat their winter ailments in the next few weeks.
The Horowhenua Community Practice had several GPs on short-term contracts in the past year. However, it has not been able to replace the doctors whose contracts end during the next three months.
Centre manager Craig Fleury said the practice, which operates from the Horowhenua Health Centre, would be down to two GPs in the "next few weeks''.
"Given this is through the mid-winter period, both the Horowhenua Community Practice and the other four general practices serving Levin will be under some pressure, and there will be some delays to get non-urgent appointments.''
Doctor numbers have been an ongoing issue in Horowhenua.
A GP shortage in Foxton last year resulted in some patients waiting up to a week to get appointments, while some residents had to travel to Levin to see a doctor.
Mr Fleury said the practice was making "good progress'' towards recruiting more GPs and would be calling on the MidCentral Health and PHO workforce to help it get through the next few months.
Despite efforts to pool regional resources, the practice was likely to be understaffed through the winter period, he said.
"This will inevitably have a knock-on effect to the other Levin practices, who need to service their own existing enrolled populations during this busy period so won't be able to help out much with overflow,'' he said.
Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy said the shortage was "not a calamity''.
"We've had some challenges around securing a full muster of doctors.''
Mr Duffy said the issue was short-term and those most likely to be affected were people not registered with a GP.
Anyone with an urgent medical concern would have access to a doctor, he said.
Mr Fleury said people could do several things to help support the practices and get through the winter safely, including making appointments well in advance, seeing nurses or clinicians instead of GPs, getting vaccinated and using the Healthline.
Central Primary Health Organisation clinical director Chiquita Hansen said people should also help themselves stay well over the winter.
"Eating well, some daily exercise, staying as warm as possible are the old standards, and especially for anyone with a long-term condition, knowing the warning signs of their condition getting worse and having strategies in place that they have worked out with their family practice are what we advise.
"On the other hand, we don't want a person to delay getting medical help if they think there is something that clearly does need medical attention.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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