Changing Times At Amuri Health Care

A lot has been happening at the Amuri Community Health Centre.

Long serving general practitioner, Doctor Graeme Scrivener has announced that he will move closer to retirement by ceasing his Monday and Tuesday clinics at the Centre from the beginning of December. Graeme intends to take an extended holiday and then we hope to see him back from time to time as a relieving locum.

Doctor Richard McCubbin has also decided to reduce his workload from the New Year. Richard currently provides clinics four days a week, Tuesdays to Fridays. In the New Year Richard will only be in Rotherham on Wednesdays and Fridays. Our loss is Cheviot’s gain as Richard will work each Thursday at Cheviot Medical Centre.

Recruitment of doctors to rural practices is notoriously difficult. I am therefore extremely pleased to be able to advise that Doctor Vicky Chaplin will be joining us permanently from early December. Vicky comes to us from the Riccarton Clinic where she has been a GP for the last ten years. Vicky is an experienced and capable doctor who will bring a new dimension to our services. Vicky will be available each weekday between 9am and 3pm.

The medical team is then rounded out by Doctor Will Parkyn. Doctor Parkyn is already well known to many patients as he has been a registrar in training at Amuri for the last year. Will will be holding clinics each Tuesday and Thursday. Will will be primarily employed by the Hanmer Springs Medical Centre for the rest of his week.

These shared staffing arrangements owe a lot to the spirit of cooperation that now exists between the individual health trusts in the Hurunui District.

Collectively we are building up a pool of skilled clinicians within the region. That can only be good for the future.

Our District Nursing service continues to provide extremely valuable care in patients homes across Amuri, Amberley, Cheviot and Waikari. Funding has been an issue during recent times, but we are currently concluding a new contract with the CDHB and we are confident that the service is secure.

After a six months period with Sheryl Banks as a temporary practice manager, last February we appointed Paul Wylie as permanent practice manager. Paul comes to us with huge management experience which has been invaluable as we sort out our financial arrangements with our funders.

Financially the last two years have been tough, especially the last year. We incurred significant losses and we have had to dip into our reserves. Many factors contributed to the losses, but inadequate funding, and rapidly increased costs were the prime culprits. Changes in the way we operate have been necessary to ensure that we remain viable and able to look after our Amuri community.

The direct costs of providing 50% of the current after hours service were not sustainable and Amuri has now relinquished its share to the Hanmer Springs Medical centre who will assume 100% responsibility for the after hours service from 1 December. While most people are not likely to notice too much change, full details of how the service will be provided will be announced by Hanmer Springs Medical Centre in the near future.

We are currently in the process of negotiating better funding with the Canterbury District Health Board. Nothing has been finalised but indications are positive. As a condition of increased funding, it is likely that we will be required to increase our patient fee schedule, although you can be assured that we will keep any increases to a minimum.

The board of Amuri Health Care Limited is confident that the measures put in place will be successful and that health services in the Amuri region have a sound future.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Bob Kingscote
Chairman Amuri Health Care Limited.