Patea Medical Centre is up and running with regular on-site doctors after the practice was bought by Ngati Ruanui. Ngati Ruanui Holdings took over on August 1.

The former owners Patea Medical Trust had had difficulty trying to attract a permanent doctor. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said buying the practice was part of an overall strategy.

"We're investing in our people and the Patea community. This will provide health certainty and well being for all the residents of Patea.''

Read more: Patea Medical centre purchased for region
Patea to have permanent GPs again as Ngati Ruanui takes over Patea Medical Centre

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Both Ngati Ruanui doctors and locums will start working in Patea, ensuring there is a permanent team of doctors providing back up and support, she said.

"And we provide a technologically advanced STEAM programme to youth, are establishing an innovative berry food business to provide highly sought-after skills and employment and have a virtual health model partnership with Dr Lance O'Sullivan (MaiHealth).''

The MaiHealth virtual doctor network was set up last year when Patea residents needed access to care. The structure has worked for patients with straightforward medical needs, organising same day scripts through a simple online system.

Patients needing more thorough medical attention have been travelling as far as Hawera and Whanganui for treatment when a doctor has not been available.

Patea Medical Trust chairman Brett Honeyfield told the Chronicle it was the best possible outcome for all parties.

"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.''

The original trust had formed to buy the practice from a private GP in 1991 and the practice was bought using community donations.

The trust then spent the next nine years working voluntarily to keep doctors in the town and in 2000 a new, charitable trust was set up.

But over the past few years it has been very difficult to keep a doctor in Patea and the lack of back-up and collegial support available to a sole-charge doctor in a small town was off-putting to many potential candidates, Honeyfield said.

"We all share strong community objectives.

"Ngati Ruanui want to be 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,'' he said.

Ngarewa-Packer said owning the practice builds on a strategy of having a healthy productive, innovative regional economy that will support better-paying jobs and a better quality of life.