By Emma Sharplin –
The announcement of the closure of Pukekohe’s only

accident and medical centre erupted across the community last week, with many taking to social media to vent their frustrations and anger at discontinuation of the service.

Among many opinions shared, several members of the community concluded that the closure was profit driven, as the Pukekohe Family Health Care is a privately owned business.
However, the Post Newspaper can confirm that this is not the case, and the centre is unable to provide adequate service to both their general practice and
accident and medical service due to lack of staff.
“We cannot obtain enough staff to run both services, it came to the decision to choose between one or the other,” says Director, Dr Selina Green.
“This hasn’t been a hasty decision, and we expected this response from the community. We have tried endlessly to come up with solutions, but we just cannot recruit or keep doctors in our practice who are willing to do both services for their own good reasons.”  
Dr Green stated that last week, for the first time in 20 years, they thought they were going to have to close the accident and medical centre due to no doctor being available.
“We had two who were sick, and one just wasn’t available to do the extra hours. That day, we honestly thought we were going to have to shut the doors. We cannot keep pulling our doctors from our GP service to assist in the A&M. We need protect the doctors that we have.”
Dr Green agrees that the demand is there for and accident and medical centre in Pukekohe, and hopes that with the three month time frame given until closure, that someone will take the opportunity and step in to run it.
“Over half the patients that we see are not enrolled in our practice, and just last Saturday, we had 23 patients come through our doors between 8am and 9am. We have seen the demand for more hours from our enrolled patients. They need more flexible hours, more time with their GP and nurse, as a lot of patients have more complex and long term conditions that need monitoring and managing to keep them well.

There will be approximately 100 extra appointments each week available at PFHC for patients enrolled with us and also extended hours
from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday morning till 12pm.”

As the news broke last week, MP for Hunua, Andrew Bayly, stated that the ‘three Auckland DHBs have been working for some time on a programme to recruit new A & M providers across the Auckland region.’
“I understand that this procurement process will be launched imminently. The DHB is currently assessing how to bridge the gap from 1 July to the date of the new arrangement. Already one local medical practitioner has expressed an interest in providing A & M services on an interim basis.”
“I have personally received an assurance from the Counties Manukau DHB CEO, Geraint Martin, that the DHB understands the growth our community is facing and the important role that after hours care plays in keeping our community safe and healthy. Counties Manukau DHB will update the community in due course on progress.”
The Post Newspaper contacted the Franklin Local Board, and while both the Chair, Angela Fulljames, Deputy Chairman, Andy Baker, agree that the closure is unfortunate.
“Obviously this is a private business making a business decision seemingly based on their ability or inability to find staff required to run an A & M. There is nothing Council can do about it, however, as the current Chair of the Franklin Localities Group I have asked for more information as to possible options or opportunities. The GP services remain open and we remain serviced by ambulatory services and CMDHB are active in looking at the future services down this way so the sky isn’t falling in quite yet,” says Andy Baker.
“Agree with Andy. It is unfortunate, but outside of council scope, however Andy, board members and myself will continue to advocate for services to support a growing population,” says Angela Fulljames.