PHO must solve poser of after-hours cover

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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The Southern District Health Board has requested regular reports on the progression towards 100 per cent after-hours coverage from the Southern Primary Health Organisation, with a solution expected within six months.

On Thursday, the health board endorsed a PHO report outlining several fixes to the problem of after-hours coverage in the district, including Southland Hospital picking up overnight care services from 10pm to 8am.

The report says after-hours services around the Southern district are "strained".

The Southland Times has also reported the free after-hours services for under 6s rolled out by the Government in July has not had the support from many GPs in Invercargill.

The region has the lowest percentage of free after-hours coverage for children under 6 in the country - at 83 per cent, against a target of 100 per cent coverage. Most health boards in the country have reached between 90 and 100 per cent coverage.

In the After Hours Initiative Report from the PHO doctors identified the after-hours scheme as unsustainable financially and a burden on the current workforce.

The report, prepared by facilitator Valerie Meyers, says practices were often operating after-hours care at a financial loss and some GPs were unable to continue with the physical demands of delivering care.

Challenges included safety issues with associated tiredness and recruiting doctors to the area because of after-hours expectations and frequency of calls.

Besides a hospital-supported service option, other ideas included costing after-hours care, and paying GPs for after-hours work separately from usual day work.

Following yesterday's board meeting, health board deputy chairman Paul Menzies said the board had "good will" the Southern PHO would reach a solution within the next six months.

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- The Southland Times

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