Interim after-hours health care plans under way

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey says news after-hours care could be on the horizon is a win for the community, after he held Health NZ to account at his public meeting last week.

Doocey has been instrumental in advocating for after-hours health care on behalf of the growing population in Waimakariri, and presented a petition of 3381 signatures last week, calling on after-hours services to be fast-tracked.

He said statistics presented at Thursday's meeting by Te Whatu Ora Health NZ executive director of planning and funding, Tracey Maisey, showed the need was getting increasingly urgent as the population continued to grow.

"It was really concerning to hear that presentation by Waimakariri residents to Christchurch's after-hours and emergency department had risen almost 20% since 2019," he said.

"This just highlights the need for services to be provided in Waimakariri without further delay."

At the meeting, Maisey confirmed she had already been in discussion with local GPs about how they could provide after-hours services, and was waiting to hear back from them with a proposal.

"It's fantastic that the local GPs are working on this proposal," Doocey said.

"I will be watching the developments closely and keeping in touch with Health NZ to ensure timely progress.

"I'll be prepared to go to the Health Minister if there is no action."

Doocey said it was also good to hear an apology from Health NZ about the lack of communication with the community, after an opening date for the new after-hours facility came and went.

"In 2019 I hosted Health NZ, where they committed to after-hours services.

"In 2021, then CEO Peter Bramley announced at my next public meeting that the facility would be open by 2022.

"Sadly 2022 came and went with no further updates, and now we know it is unlikely to be open before 2025.

"It was good to finally hear the health board acknowledge that the lines of communication should have been better, and I am looking forward to clearer communication going forward."