Chen calls for East Care’s funding

Botany-based Labour list MP Naisi Chen says she wants funding to be reinstated to East Care’s overnight medical service. Photo supplied Tom Zhao

East Auckland-based Labour list MP Naisi Chen is adding her voice to those calling for East Care’s overnight medical service to be reinstated.

The 11pm-7am service provided by East Care Accident and Medical in Botany Road ceased operating on December 18 last year.

Counties Manukau District Health Board funded the overnight medical service from 2014-2018.

East Care funded it since then but shut it down last December.

Chen lives in Botany and stood for the Labour Party in the Botany electorate at last year’s general election.

She was defeated by National’s Christopher Luxon by 3999 electorate votes but entered Parliament on her party’s list.

Chen says she’s “extremely concerned the Counties Manukau DHB has chosen to close East Care’s overnight medical service”.

“Our community has clearly expressed this is an essential service because it isn’t convenient for many people to travel to other overnight clinics to access medical care.”

The district health board has the power to reinstate the funding necessary for East Care to resume operating 24/7, Chen says.

“I would particularly encourage our elected representatives on the Counties Manukau DHB to consider reinstating the service and focus on what else is needed to service the health needs of east Auckland.”

The Government increased the district health board’s funding by $94 million in 2020, she says.

“This was part of the largest ever increase in DHB funding as part of Labour’s commitment to reverse historic underinvestment of [the] health [sector].

“I will continue to advocate that members of the Counties Manukau DHB utilise Labour’s record of investment in [the] health [sector] to ensure east Auckland gets the services we need.”

A Counties Manukau Health spokesperson says the organisation is working with East Health Trust and East Care to develop local services.

This includes plans to continue to grow community hubs, “as we are doing in all localities and is in line with one of our key policies”.

The spokesperson says in the past 12 months Counties Manukau Health has increased its nursing provision to east Auckland.

“In terms of emergency services we’re confident that during the hours of 11pm-7am … Middlemore Hospital can meet the demand for emergency services.

“Prior to East Care’s decision to cease its overnight service, between 11pm-7am Middlemore’s emergency department was seeing on average 55 people.

“East Care was seeing on average 21 people during this timeframe.

“Since East Care’s decision to cease its overnight service, between 11pm-7am Middlemore’s emergency department is seeing on average 60 people.

“To put this in perspective, for the month of January 2021, between 8am-10pm when East Care and other primary health care providers are operating, Middlemore on average saw 227 emergency department arrivals, all ages from all localities.

“As these statistics show, the vast majority of our emergency department presentations have and continue to occur during the hours when primary health care providers, including after-hours clinics such as East Care, are open.”

The spokesperson says Counties Manukau Health is confident Middlemore Hospital’s emergency department can meet the need for urgent services between 11pm-7am.

“Even at our busiest, emergency department staff will ensure anyone presenting at the hospital gets the right care as soon as possible.

“Those who need emergency medical care after 11pm should either ring for an ambulance or come to the emergency department at Middlemore Hospital.”

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