East health group established

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown speaking at the East Care meeting.

A public meeting on the loss of east Auckland’s overnight medical service has led to a community-minded health group being established.

On December 15 last year it was announced East Care Accident and Medical, a much-needed medical facility in east Auckland, was ending the overnight service it provided in Counties Manukau for more than 20 years.

As Counties Manukau Health cut off overnight funding for East Care, it found itself the only Auckland clinic running a 24/7 service without any DHB subsidy. This, along with increasing patient volume, caused it to close its overnight service.

The move caused a large public outcry within the community.

On April 31 local MPs Christopher Luxon and Simeon Brown hosted a public meeting with Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) chief executive Margie Apa and chairmain Mark Gosche to express and discuss their concerns with the loss of East Care’s overnight service. It was also to participate in a discussion about the future of health care in east Auckland.

“The meeting was held to discuss the future health needs of the locality,” Loretta Hansen, chief executive of East Health Trust PHO, says.

Following this meeting, Hansen has been working with Penny Magud, general manager of Locality Services at CMDHB, to establish an Eastern Locality Community Health Review Steering Group.

The establishment of this group is to ensure Counties Manukau Health hears “directly from and works in partnership with health consumers and community members, living and/or working within the Eastern Locality district”.

The steering group’s purpose is to provide a mechanism for health consumers and representatives of sub-sectors of the community to participate in the planning, development and delivery of health and social care services by “identifying current and future health and social care needs of the Eastern locality community”.

It is also tasked with “identifying how these needs might be met including potential delivery options and infrastructure requirements”.

“It brings together local key community representatives to review the current and future health and social needs,” Hansen says.

Each member of the steering group represents a sector of the community.

“This is to ensure that CMDHB and PHO hear directly from and work in partnership with health consumers and community members.”

The group will aim to deliver a strategy or proposal by July this year. The report that will be prepared for the DHB will outline recommendations around the health and social services the group wants to see being “taken forward by the DHB”.

The timeframe enables the group to receive the outcome of the independent review of overnight service requirements commissioned by Counties Manukau DHB.

“The CMDHB has always intended to review the overnight services following their decision to no longer provide overnight funding to urgent care providers (East Care),” Hansen says.