Shortage of staff sinks clinic plan

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2012

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Plans for a new South Taranaki medical centre have been scrapped because of a doctor shortage.

Hawera's Southcare Medical started making arrangements in July to open a clinic in Opunake as early as last month.

But it has now pulled the pin after two of its 10 doctors resigned recently.

The clinic is not the town's new medical centre that is being planned by the Coastal Taranaki Health Trust.

Southcare Medical trust chairwoman Ella Borrows said one doctor had retired and another was setting up his own practice, which had slashed any hope of opening up shop in Opunake.

"It's not good for us to send a doctor to Opunake while trying to maintain 10,000 enrolled patients in Hawera," she said.

"Hawera is our core focus and we need to service that before we branch out to other areas."

Change has been rife at Southcare Medical since the shock resignation of general manager Kevin Simpson last month.

His exit came just weeks after the medical centre launched a major review into its sustainability.

Mrs Borrows, who is the acting general manager, said working with the Coastal Taranaki Health Trust, which is building a medical centre in Opunake, was still on the cards.

"We haven't given up on working collaboratively with Opunake and its doctor in the future."

Before Mr Simpson's abrupt departure talks had begun around the viability of Southcare moving into Opunake.

"There was a softening of the line while Kevin was here and the trust has followed through with that and the pin has been pulled," Mrs Borrows said.

The ongoing review at Southcare is to make sure they are meeting their targets both medically and financially.

Mrs Borrows said there were always things that could be done better and the review would identify weaknesses.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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