WellSouth GP clinic ‘not a competitor’

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INVERCARGILL medical centres have been assured a planned new WellSouth general practice in their city will not poach their staff.

Details of the new clinic, a venture intended to ease chronic issues registering with a new doctor in Invercargill, were released on Monday.

WellSouth, the region’s primary health organisation, would set up the practice and was recruiting staff.

Invercargill GP Andy Doherty said local doctors had been told by WellSouth it would only recruit patients who were not registered with other practices.

“They have also stated they do not want to ‘poach’ GPs who are currently working at other GP practices in town.”

WellSouth had explicitly told local doctors it did not want to be a competitor, but to work with them to help the locals who could not find a GP, Dr Doherty, of Victoria Avenue Medical Centre, said.

“This will be important for local GPs to hear so that we know there is no competitive behaviour occurring.

“We have been told there are to be meetings around this, which would be indicative of collaborative behaviour.”

The new clinic was being established to tackle a range of issues in Invercargill including a shortage of GPs in the city and patients preferring to go the Southland Hospital emergency department instead of a GP.

Dr Doherty said patients realised they had a choice between a non-funded after-hours service and a funded, free-at-the-point-of-service, emergency department.

WellSouth said its new service would initially be open during normal business hours, but in the long-term would play a part in the delivery of after-hours services.

Dr Doherty, who was also chairman of the Invercargill Urgent Doctors Service (IUDS), said any new service run by WellSouth would be in place of IUDS.

“There will be meetings with local GPs prior to the formation in this service.

“WellSouth have recognised that any service that is opened should not be regarded as a cheap after-hours alternative to seeing your own GP, as the medical evidence is there to show that continuity of care with your GP reduces your long-term illness risk.”

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