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Coastal Medical Ltd (CML, owners of Opunake and Oakura medical centres) will be the new owners of Avon Medical Centre from 18 July 2022.
Currently owned by Primary Health Care Ltd (PHCL), Avon Medical Centre is one of many practices across Aotearoa that have been facing staffing challenges due to the national shortage of GPs and the impacts of COVID-19 on the primary care workforce.
Following the departure of three GPs in early 2022, the practice has been short staffed, with one permanent GP on-site. Visiting locum GPs have been providing additional cover and virtual consults have been available, but this is not a sustainable solution in the long-term.
Pinnacle acting chief executive Justin Butcher says the situation has been far from ideal. “The lack of adequate GP cover carries clinical risk, puts huge pressure on the medical centre team, and has led to patients facing long wait times for routine appointments.”
“We want everyone to get the care they need, when they need it, and we’ve explored all options to make that happen. It became obvious we were going to need to think differently about finding a solution, which led us to the decision to sell to Coastal Medical.”
Opunake and Oakura medical centres are both thriving rural practices, delivering a full range of primary care services to their local communities. They have established relationships with iwi, with clinics on the Parihaka Papakāinga, collaborating with Taranaki DHB and Pinnacle to deliver health services to local whānau.
“The Coastal Medical team is well resourced and in a good position to handle the staffing challenges at Avon Medical Centre. We’re delighted to be able to return the practice to local GP ownership, and we have confidence they’ll serve the community well,” says Justin.
Coastal Medical GP and director Dr Nick Loveridge-Easther says they’re looking forward to getting to know Avon Medical Centre patients. “We know it’s been a difficult time for the patients and staff. We’re aware of the huge amount of work we need to do to return to the high standard of primary health care service the people of Stratford are used to, and aim to improve on that too. We’re working hard behind the scenes to develop sustainable solutions to increase accessibility to health care, as we have established in our other clinics. We’re excited to work with the Stratford community to make this a service we can all be proud of.”
Patients can look forward to easier access to appointments with permanent doctors, a few new faces on the medical centre team and no change to fees.