Convenient and affordable healthcare at a GP near you

A formal sit-down consult with your GP may be on the way out for some in the Western Bay of Plenty as GPs look for more efficient ways to care for patients.

Dr Heath Sumpton, owner of one of Tauranga’s new medical centres, Healthcare on Fifteenth, says people want healthcare that is both convenient and affordable.

“The demographics in Tauranga are changing and people want to see a doctor when they want to see a doctor. They don’t want to wait, especially young people. They don’t want to come in and sit opposite a doctor in a formal setting.”

Healthcare on Fifteenth is one of 32 general practices that come under the umbrella of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation.

Patients enrolled at these general practices receive subsidised healthcare, including free visits for under 14s and fees of just $18.50 per visit for people with a Community Services Card.

Healthcare on Fifteenth opened in October 2018 after the practice was sold and re-located from the Accident and Healthcare site in Second Avenue. The centre offers the services of five GPs and two nurse practitioners, as well as offering vasectomies and the Bay of Plenty Skin Clinic two days a week. A pharmacy is due to open next door shortly which will be integrated into the practice and will be open seven days a week.

Heath says many minor health issues can be resolved in just a few minutes, yet a standard GP appointment is 10-15 minutes.

“The way general practice is set up is an inefficient way of treating people. There will always be a group of patients that require more support but there are also lots of patients that don’t want that. They just want to get in and out.”

Heath says the future of general practice is integration of nurses and nurse practitioners working alongside GPs and pharmacists, with online access through Manage My Health where patients can make appointments, see lab results and order their own scripts, hence empowering the patient.

“We want to have ease of access for our patients by way of using this online system. I think we can manage people far more efficiently if we use our resources better.”

Healthcare on Fifteenth also offers a walk-in clinic twice a day where people can seek healthcare without an appointment, as well as a Saturday morning clinic.

“I want to leverage off the fact that if you register with us, we will provide you with ease of access and reduced cost,” says Heath.

“I want to make healthcare more affordable for people in a more efficient way.”

Other new medical centres established in Tauranga recently include Chadwick Healthcare in Bethlehem, which also opened in October 2018, and Tara Road Medical Centre in Papamoa, which opened this week.

WBOP PHO Manager, General Practice Services Phil Back says there are around 215 GPs working a variety of hours across practices in the Western Bay of Plenty, providing services to approximately 169,000 enrolled patients.

“This means on average there are about 1350 patients per equivalent full-time GP, which is quite a manageable volume.

“Nationally, the numbers are quite variable, with some hard-to-recruit areas experiencing ratios well in excess of 2000 patients per GP. Western Bay of Plenty is probably one of the more optimal areas to recruit from and work within.”