Horowhenua's Youth Health Service says it has been stretched beyond its limits. While a forum on youth health in the district held in October last year was well supported, members say they feel MidCentral Health does not deem it worthy of more funding.
The district health board says funding is a huge challenge and at the moment Covid-19 is a much bigger issue.
Horowhenua's Youth Health Service GP Dr Glenn Colquhoun said he was in despair over the situation and the lack of progress.
"We have a three to four-week waiting list for appointments for existing patients, while our books have been closed all year for new ones."
The service dealt with a range of issues among young people, the biggest of which were mental health and suicide, he said.
"The forum meeting endorsed our request for an extension of our service to five days a week, from three days."
He said the request for more money was turned down "flat".
"We were told priority must be given to mental health services, services to Maori and those in [highly deprived] zones.
"We work with many of these groups," said Colquhoun.
He worked three days a week, one on severely reduced pay, to keep it all going.
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"We are turning people away every week."
He said the service was much easier to access for young people than an ordinary GP.
"We have also provided a very stable service since 2011 and given the revolving door of clinicians in Horowhenua, we are a very settled service, allowing patients with significant issues to deal with the same people each time."
He said the team at Horowhenua Youth services had provided other services to its patients, depending on their needs, such as food vouchers, petrol vouchers, they started a second-hand clothing shop and raised money to pay for dental care. They also ran a cooking service and did creative writing classes to help clients.
He said Horowhenua had been poorly served for many years and the DHB had been very slow to help.
"They say we do a good job but then do not back that up with more funding."
He said other clinicians told him it was bad elsewhere.
"There is lack of forward planning. I can't even get kids to see a urologist, for example. Even making an appointment is useless."
He said in his opinion the PHO and DHB were sticking their heads in the sand.
"They don't complain, while they should be embarrassing the government about the situation on the ground. Clinical services must unify to prevent more and more silos emerging.
"They should listen to clinicians on the ground and to their patients.
"No one has visited us or ever asked us what we think works."
"People on the ground need to work together to change this system."
He said it might be time for clinicians to become political.
"We're sick of writing and panning things their way, sick of listening to them.
"The reality is we cannot give our young vulnerable young people the care they need. We are not meeting the needs in our community.
"We are not a community that speaks up or has access to the corridors of power. It is time to change that."
Recently elected board member Jenny Warren said she was in constant communication about this and was fully supportive but with the Covid-19 crisis health priorities were elsewhere, understandably.
"When this crisis is all over, I'll be happy to look into youth health again," she said.
Board chair Brendan Duffy said he did not accept that Horowhenua Youth Health Services was turned down flat for more money.
"A lot has been going on since last year and both prior to and after Christmas we applied for funding for mental health services via YOSS, of which this service is a part.
"They've had a modest contribution, but we do not yet have what we need for them and I acknowledge that."
He said it was an enormous challenge and at the moment the Covid-19 situation was a much bigger issue.
"Nobody denies Horowhenua Youth Health Services needs more funding, but getting it is very difficult and the current crisis makes getting funding even harder.
"I completely understand their frustration, but we are trying really hard. The demands on funding for the issues and groups they work with is significant," Duffy said.
YOSS director Trissel Eriksen said money is still going to Horowhenua from various sources for mental health and youth, but funders have indicated that Iwi and Maori providers are the preferred organisations for these services.
"Some health and wellbeing money could be coming from other funders. We are still working on that."
"The DHB understands our needs and value or work and that of the Horowhenua Youth Health Services," she said.
"It is difficult to get funding at the moment and setting up youth health services in Manawatu and Tararua, who have none, will be more important.
"I understand Glenn' frustration, but we cannot free up any more money at this time. Funders decide how their money will be spend and they choose differently right now."
MidCentral Health was approached for comment but have yet to respond.