Hunt on for a GP to cover Seddon

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2014

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Marlborough's Primary Health Organisation is exploring the viability of a new outreach doctor's surgery in Seddon.

The organisation's chief executive, Beth Tester, said the business model involved getting a Blenheim GP practice on board to provide a rostered doctor to operate a satellite surgery.

A clinic in Seddon would need 400 patients enrolled to make it viable, Ms Tester said.

Discussions with Springlands Health, Redwoodtown Doctors and Scott Street Health in Blenheim were taking place to provide GP cover for a three-day clinic.

The clinics were receptive to the idea but a new surgery in Seddon could still be two years away depending on the outcome of the business case, she said.

A similar satellite scheme between Springlands Health and its outreach centre in Havelock had been a success.

However, the organisation faced a major hurdle in recruiting more GPs to Marlborough to free up a registrar to work in Seddon, Ms Tester said. Marlborough had 39 registered GPs and needed another three.

"GPs are hard to recruit in smaller, rural areas," she said. "It is a nationwide issue. We are not getting young doctors coming through to Marlborough, becoming part of the community, and staying long term. We have actively advertised around the country promoting Marlborough for its lifestyle and we have used Destination Marlborough videos to promote the region."

The earthquakes in Seddon in July and August last year, and the 48-kilometre round-trip to a Blenheim GP, compounded the community need for an outreach clinic, Ms Tester said.

The business case would look at the logistics of providing a clinic, including costings and options for premises, she said.

The last GP clinic in Seddon was operated by George Street Medical Clinic in Blenheim and closed in 2011. They advertised both in New Zealand and internationally for a new doctor but without success.

Dr Jules Nihotte was a GP in Seddon for 33 years and retired in 1999. He said there was a "real need" for a GP in the town, particularly if an earthquake hit.

"I was treating a patient during the 1966 earthquake. It sounded like an express train coming through the village. Although there were no injuries, people were very anxious," he said.

"In this day and age people shouldn't have to travel to Blenheim to attend a GP."

However, he was not sure the rural area would be able to attract a medical practitioner.

"If there were two doctors there it would be a great life but a single rotating doctor would have to work 24 hours a day," he said.

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Awatere Community Hub co-ordinator Marie Flowerday said some Seddon residents were suffering from anxiety after the July and August earthquakes.

Residents were travelling to the Wairau Community Clinic in Blenheim for treatment.

"We see it as very important [that] Seddon has someone there on a part-time basis."

Meanwhile, the Primary Health Organisation confirmed the new Medical Centre in Renwick would open to patients next Monday.

- The Marlborough Express

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