After-hours service essential

Happy New Year! While the holidays may seem a dim and distant memory now, I trust that you had a wonderful break with your family and friends.

Delivering better health services to east Auckland is a significant issue and will remain high on my list.

Late last year my colleague Simeon Brown and I launched a petition to save the after-hours service at East Care. Unfortunately, two years ago Counties Manukau DHB cut funding for the overnight service, meaning East Care has had to run this service at a loss.

This, coupled with staffing challenges, forced East Care into a position where they could not continue operating overnight.

Simeon and I launched a petition to ask Counties Manukau DHB to urgently step in to help keep this 24/7 service going for our community. We ended up with an incredible 10,454 people signing the petition in a very short time before Christmas, making this is one of the most significant local petitions in the country.

I recently presented this petition to the DHB Board and spoke about how East Care’s 24/7 service was a valued part of the East Auckland community and how the Middlemore Hospital Emergency Department was overwhelmed with a sub-optimal customer experience.

Sadly, the bottom line is that the board said they would not support the service due to funding pressures and their belief that Middlemore can easily accommodate the East Care urgent care customers.

The confusing thing is Middlemore Hospital has even acknowledged how stretched their Emergency Department is with a statement released earlier this year requesting people not to come unless needing emergency care. This decision is deeply disappointing and gutting to me, Simeon Brown and no doubt all of you.

I went on to raise the broader opportunity of building a properly resourced Botany Super Clinic so that the 130,000 east Aucklanders do not have to travel outside the area. Imagine if we could have more basic health care services like rehab, spirometry, ophthalmology, oncology, day surgery, expanded specialist units and an upgraded birthing unit all available in east Auckland.

The board, while interested in building a broader Super Clinic strategy for the region, gave no commitments or deadlines for an upgraded Botany Super Clinic.

We discussed the need for the board to properly engage and hear the concerns of east Auckland residents and the board chair proposed that he would like to hold a board meeting in Botany in the coming months.

While that is a start, Simeon and I think a public meeting would also be helpful so the DHB could outline their vision of delivering improved health services to the residents of east Auckland. We will keep you informed of progress on this.

Until next time, have a great week.

Christopher Luxon
MP for Botany