New GP service helps to meet primary healthcare needs of South Taranaki community

22 January 2021

Taranaki DHB’s new general practice operating out of Hāwera Hospital will help meet the primary healthcare needs of the South Taranaki community.

The new general practice is one of many new services being offered to assist in improving health outcomes for the people of South Taranaki, and Taranaki DHB chief executive Rosemary Clements says the focus has been on providing high quality, accessible, sustainable and culturally responsive community, primary and secondary healthcare services.

"Through a commitment to ongoing co-design of new ways of working with our community, primary care, iwi and health service community providers we believe we can make a collective difference to the health and wellbeing of those with long-term complex conditions, and of the health of Māori in the community, by enabling people to receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place."

For the past year Taranaki DHB has worked closely with the South Taranaki health sector to determine what help and support is needed to enhance primary and community services for the region. Collaboration has resulted in a new model of care being developed called South Taranaki Rural Health.

The new South Taranaki Rural Health General Practice (the Practice) is the third service improvement to be implemented in South Taranaki, following the new 24/7 after-hours GP phone service and a new St John See & Treat Service which last year.

The Practice will operate out of Hāwera Hospital offering walk-in and booked appointments. Patients will be seen by a team made up of senior nurses that are specialists in general practice care, and general practitioners with specialist training in rural hospital medicine, including Dr Tom Dawson and Dr Rory Kennelly who will head the Practice.

Dr Dawson says all services typical of a general practice will be available, including diagnosis and treatment; health education; disease prevention and screening.

"We will work alongside the existing primary healthcare services in South Taranaki to really make a difference in our community, caring for patients and their whānau, helping everyone access the right care at the right time."

Hāwera’s Emergency Department (ED) has been providing primary care services for a range of reasons. However, emergency care is designed to focus on resolving an immediate medical issue. Whereas care provided in a general practice focuses on people’s long-term health and wellbeing.

"Accessing ED instead of general practices can lead to lack of continuity of healthcare, and is not the best way to improve health outcomes.

"We know that people with non-urgent and long-term health issues are best seen by a general practice team, where they can receive ongoing care. We also need to save ED for emergencies," Dr Dawson explains.

The Practice is open to both enrolled and walk-in patients from 8:00am - 4:00pm, Monday to Friday. These hours will be extended into the evening and weekends upon further recruitment.

For more information about South Taranaki Rural Health and the Practice, including FAQs, visit 

Last updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

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