Patea will soon have a permanent team of doctors again, with Ngati Ruanui buying the Patea Medical Centre.
The town's only GP left in June 2017 and the Patea and District Community Medical Trust struggled to find a replacement. In the interim, the town has been served by the MaiHealth virtual doctor network in a pop-up medical centre.
Ngati Ruanui Holdings chairwoman Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said Ngati Ruanui would take over the Patea Medical Centre on August 1 as part of its overall economic investment strategy.
"We're investing in our people and the Patea community," Ngarewa-Packer said.
"This acquisition will provide health certainty and wellbeing for all residents of Patea."
A mixture of Ngati Ruanui doctors and locums will work in Patea, ensuring there is a permanent team of doctors providing back-up and support.
"It also builds on our existing strategy of having a healthy productive, innovative, export-orientated regional economy that will support better paying jobs and better quality of life," Ngawera-Packer said.
The MaiHealth virtual doctor network was suitable for patients with straightforward medical needs but patients requiring more thorough medical attention had to travel to Hawera or Whanganui for treatment. MaiHealth will continue to operate as a separate service in Patea.
"We're looking forward to providing a range of services in South Taranaki; bringing the services to the rural areas where they're needed," Ngarewa-Packer said.
Patea Medical Trust chair Brett Honeyfield said the move was the best possible outcome.
"Now that we've found someone who wants to run a medical practice in Patea, we are confident this is going to be to the benefit of the community here," Honeyfield said.
Honeyfield said the supervision requirements for practitioners who qualified overseas excluded many good doctors and the lack of back-up and collegial support available to a sole-charge doctor in a small town could be off-putting to potential candidates.
"This is where Ngati Ruanui taking over is of great benefit as they have the ability to provide that supervision and support.
"We all share strong community objectives. Ngati Ruanui want to be here helping the people of Patea and finding people wanting to do that without a sole focus on financial gain has always been the biggest challenge."