Primary health services in Kaitaia underwent a major change on Monday last week, with the town's hospital accident and medical department taking over the on-call overnight roster (10pm to 8am) to which general practices used to contribute.
"With fewer GPs working in the Kaitaia area than usual, and practices finding the recruitment of GPs and locums difficult, we have taken over responsibility for the overnight care to help reduce some of the pressure," Northland DHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said.
"This will give general practice and Mahitahi Hauora [formerly the Te Tai Tokerau and Manaia PHOs] the chance to recruit and build their primary care workforce capacity."
The new arrangement was a result of a collaborative effort between the hospital, general practices and Mahitahi Hauora, he added.
Patients were encouraged to continue seeking care from their GP during the day, or to attend the after-hours general practice clinic at the hospital, which was open from 7pm seven days a week. Clinics were also open at the hospital from 10am to noon on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
"Our focus is on making sure we provide the right care, at the right time, to the right people," Dr Chamberlain said.
"By removing the GP on-call requirement, practices in Kaitaia can now focus on recruiting more doctors for this growing community."