Although Dannevirke's Kay McKenzie continues to campaign for more doctors, services in Dannevirke are doing exceptionally well in meeting the community's expectations, MP Alastair Scott says.
"Many doctors' clinics throughout the country are full, including in urban areas, so are not taking on more patients because they have reached their patient capacity, but Dannevirke's Barraud St clinic is currently enrolling new patients which means people moving to the area don't have to worry about enrolment with a GP practice," Mr Scott told the Dannevirke News.
"Another bonus is Dannevirke's open book policy which allows people who are acutely unwell to be seen by a GP on the day without an appointment. This is uncommon in most areas where you sometimes have to wait a couple of days to see a GP or visit the after-hours [clinic] which often has a long waiting time. Access to emergency services is also provided by the triage services at Dannevirke Community Hospital."
However, Mrs McKenzie, who campaigned hard for more doctors during her recent unsuccessful tilt at the Tararua mayoralty, said she wants to see the Tararua be part of the GP bonding system.
"[Prime Minister] John Key has said he's going to provide more GPs for Hawke's Bay, but what about our rural areas?"
Mrs McKenzie said it's reasonable to see whoever is available if a doctor's visit is for something minor, but she believes all patients need consistency and continuity in the long term.
"Then your history is known," she said.
At a recent community meeting Sharon Wards, the chief executive of the Tararua Health Group, said delivering services to 16,000 patients in a rural area is very tough.
"But we will be leading changes in rural health delivery in an innovative way. Given some of the innovation rural health does, a common sense approach needs to be taken," she said.
Mr Scott said rural health services in Tararua are managed by the MidCentral District Health Board and the Tararua Health Group who do a fantastic job.
"It is great to see the Tararua Health Group doing so well and meeting the community expectations," he said.
Mr Scott said the Government is also committed to meeting the challenges of rural health. "DHBs are now using tele-medicine to deliver healthcare services to patients in remote areas and offer guidance and training support to clinicians in far-off locations," said.
"This is supported by the ongoing rural broadband initiative rollout. Budget 2016 included a $600,000 boost to rural mental health.
"This funding will go towards raising awareness of mental health issues within rural communities, as well as practical help to improve the skills of the health professionals who work alongside the rural sector.
"A more recent initiative is the Health Practitioners Bill which enables a wider range of appropriate health practitioners to undertake certain functions currently restricted to medical practitioners. This will help ensure we make the best use of skills of the health workforce. More patients will be able to receive timely convenient care closer to home. This change is especially important in rural areas and aged care services and will help prevent unnecessary delays for families. It will also allow nurse practitioners, specialist registered nurse prescribers and pharmacist prescribers to do work that is currently limited to GPs.
"Overall, health services in Dannevirke are doing great, thanks to the hard work of local doctors, nurses and the DHB they are meeting the demands and challenges of providing excellent health care to an aging and rural community."