A different take on the Taranaki doctor issue

A small Taranaki town will get two new doctors to help fill a massive shortage of GPs in the area, but residents will have to wait more than three months before they arrive.

Downtown PateaIt was difficult to get people to work in Patea, and other small towns like it, said a spokesman for the New Zealand Rural General Practitioners. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin
The doctors will step in after the only full-time doctor at the Patea Health Centre left earlier this week.

The replacement doctors, a couple from England, won’t arrive until October and they’re only on a three month contract.

That’s left Patea residents Alison and Peter Mudgway shocked. Mrs Mudgway said other locals she spoke to were also surprised there would be no doctors in the town for three months.

“What are we going to do? … Especially if they’ve got a heart condition, or the ones who’ve got diabetes, or have had cancer and or have to be on certain medications,” Mrs Mudgway said.

Mr Mudgway has diabetes and kidney problems and sees the local doctor about once a month.

He said he didn’t know what he’d do without a local doctor, given the 20 minute journey to Hawera was outside of his budget.

A lot of people live 20 minutes or longer away from a doctor, and they are right in the middle of Auckland.   Of course it would be better to have someone local, but people need to stop panicking.  Living in a rural town comes with all kinds of compromises, and you just have to plan your life differently.

Even people who live 10 minutes from a doctor can’t get an appointment on the same day, or if they turn up as a walk-in, can sit there for several hours waiting to be seen.

So let’s keep some perspective, and use some of that No 8 wire country resilience instead of whining about not being able to afford a 20 minute drive to the doctor the next town over.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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