Te Hau o Te Ora, the low-cost Invercargill general practice, turns one

Thursday 31 August 2023

28 August 2023

Te Hau o Te Ora, the low-cost Invercargill general practice, turns one

Te Hau o Te Ora, Partnered Primary Care Services Ltd, celebrated it’s one year anniversary this month. Created in partnership between Hokonui Rūnanga, Awarua Rūnaka, and WellSouth Primary Health Network, the practice is filling the gap that saw around 3000 people in the community unable to access a doctor at general practice a year ago.



Alison Wilden, Kaiwhakahaere Tukupū/General Manager (Interim) and Bob Glassey Primary Care Service Manager, both from Te Hau o Te Ora, look back on the year.


“The practice came about as a lot of people in Invercargill and surrounds couldn’t enrol because GPs had closed their books,” says Alison.


“Hokonui Rūnanga, Awarua Rūnaka could see that many in their whānau community were unenrolled, maybe disenfranchised, and needed to not only be able to access primary care but feel comfortable to do so. It was more than providing health services but about a philosophy of breaking down barriers around health.”


Bob says it was a slow and measured start.


“We were only able to offer a GP on site at the practice for two days a week. Around 3000 people in Invercargill were unenrolled at the time, but when we opened there was a general movement of patients signing up. Existing GPs opened their books too, and overall, there was more primary care available.”


“The practice has been able to grow from the ground up putting support networks in place where the greatest need is. It’s been good to grow slowly,” he says.


A year later, Te Hau O Te Ora has around 900 patients on the books.


“Our funding model enables us to fund more of the visit, so patients pay less than in other practices,” says Alison.


“Around half our clients are in a quintile four or five – low-income areas – so cost is important to enabling access.”


The health hub has had to be innovative and flexible. 


“Over the year, we haven’t always been able to have GPs onsite, and continue to work toward a permanent solution. In the meantime, we have launched a GP virtual health service where patients can video consult with a GP from within the practice space,” explains Bob.


There is a nurse practitioner on site, who provides a similar service to a GP, and a nurse prescriber, who can help a lot of patients with managing their medication.


The practice has adopted the Access and Choice programme – providing on site mental health services with health coaches and health improvement practitioners free of charge.


At present, they are partnering with Ministry of Social Development and setting up a Work and Income space within practice so that clients who need both support services can access these in one place.


Te Hau o Te Ora means “The breathe of new life”, which Alison feels is appropriate.


“It is the essence of what we are trying to do – break down barriers and breathe life into the healthcare system so people are supported and feel able and comfortable to access their doctor at primary care.”


Image caption 

The team at Te Hau o Te Ora celebrate with cake. From left to right: Alison Wilden (Acting GM) Andrea & Kirsty (Nurses) Nicola (Finance) Bob Glassey (Primary Care Service Manager) Rochee (Kia Tu Programme) Stacy (Health Coach) Avon (Nurse) Cherie (Reception) absent Carla (Reception)


About WellSouth

WellSouth is the Primary Health Organisation (PHO) for the Southern region including Otago and Southland. WellSouth is funded to deliver and support a wide range of programmes in primary care. Click here for a full list of WellSouth funded programmes.

Our main aim is to enable the people of Otago-Southland to maintain and improve their health and wellbeing, whether its quitting smoking, managing a medical condition, or working with communities to improve their health. We do this by supporting patients to enrol with general practices or community providers, and offering our own clinical services to help GPs provide better care for you. These services include: clinical pharmacists, counselling, dietitians, falls prevention, and long-term conditions nursing.


About Te Hau o Te Ora

Te Hau o Te Ora Partnered Primary Care Service was established in 2021 to create a primary care service in Invercargill, supporting unenrolled patients and whānau to have access to general practice care.


WellSouth Media contact

Frederique Gulcher - 021 854 734


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