By Paul Williams
A Levin man is so fed up with waiting times he is taking Horowhenua's GP crisis into his own hands.
Norman Thompson is attempting to set up a second-hand opportunity shop in Levin and use the proceeds to lure overseas doctors to town.
Thompson is looking for a centrally located business premises in Levin to lease.
Thompson said there had been a dearth of doctors in the area for years and was hearing anecdotally of waiting lists longer than two weeks, just to visit a GP.
"By then you are either cured or dead," he said.
A charity and a committee of six would oversee the running of the shop and the appointment of doctors.
"Levin simply needs more doctors. We've been at this for six months now," he said.
"We need more than one doctor too, but it's a start. We probably need 10," he said.
He was critical of health authorities and the health system for not addressing the GP shortage.
"This should have been fixed a long time ago, before we got to this stage," he said.
He had been in touch with a local practice and the plan was met with positive response.
"I think they fell off their chair," he said.
He said the plan was to specifically court GPs from the UK. They had already made inquiries to the UK and there was already interest from doctors willing to relocate.
"They're definitely ripe for the picking," he said.
It was a model that Thompson had made work before. He was a key driver in setting up the St John's opportunity shop south of Levin five years ago that he said had turned over almost $1million one year to help fund that service.
Once a shop has been secured he would be after saleable items to stock the shelves and planned to open next month.
He hasn't got a name for the shop yet, but it could simply be called "More Doctors For Our Town".
He was also on the lookout for a small truck that could collect donated goods, and also donated goods themselves.
Clothing, beds and bedding, household goods, tools, furnishings, whiteware and any other saleable items would be gratefully received, he said.
It all kicked off a few years ago when Thompson had a heart attack. His ribs were broken as ambulance officers saved his life on the 45-minute trip to Palmerston North.
He said the district also needed its own emergency department.
"I would love for that to happen one day too," he said.