Helpline for Te Rapuora clients

An emergency helpline has been set up during Christmas for clients affected by the closure of Te Rapuora health services in Marlborough.

People can call 0800 633 324 if they need help up to January 7, when the new health provider take over.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board Maori Health director Harold Wereta said on Friday that further contact numbers for emergency situations would be advertised in newspapers. A notice had been sent to clients to inform them of the support available.

Te Rapuora closes on December 31 because of financial problems. Te Kahui Hauora o Ngati Koata, which will pick up the contract for providing Maori mental health services, opens at new offices in Blenheim on January 7.

"The district health board acknowledges that Christmas will present challenges for tangata whaiora (mental health clients)," Mr Wereta said.

A total of 72 mental health clients in Marlborough and 26 in Nelson were eligible to transfer to the new providers, Mr Wereta said. Maori mental health staff numbers had been cut from 14 to six as part of the process.

"The number of positions is a reflection of the number of clients eligible to be transferred," he said.

The board had sent letters to each client with details of their new health provider.

Marlborough Mayor and Primary Health Organisation (PHO) deputy chairman Alistair Sowman last week asked for assurances that Te Rapuora clients would not fall through the cracks during the summer holidays. He said Te Rapuora had a surprising number of mental health clients.

PHO and iwi health board chairman Joe Puketapu said the board had assured him there would be help available.

Drug and alcohol clients were almost twice the contracted number, and numbers would be reviewed, he said.

Acting chief executive Glenis McAlpine said the PHO had an obligation to help arrange care for Te Rapuora clients through GPs.

The Marlborough Express