WellSouth partner with Southern Rūnaka for Invercargill primary care service

Tuesday 01 June 2021

Further strengthening the focus on equity in primary health care, WellSouth is partnering with Southern Rūnaka in the creation of a primary care service in Invercargill.

Hokonui Rūnanga, Waihōpai Rūnaka and Awarua Rūnaka and WellSouth Primary Health Network will work together to create a primary health service targeting unenrolled patients in Invercargill, particularly unenrolled Māori populations. The partnership will be based on a whānau-centred model of care, increasing access to primary care in the city.  

WellSouth’s board of trustees approved in principle the development of a joint venture partnership at its May meeting. WellSouth management is working with Rūnaka representatives to develop a business case and make further arrangements for the primary care services.

“It’s a time of significant change in the health system in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and WellSouth and our partners see this as an opportunity to work together to improve access to care, starting with Invercargill,” says Andrew Swanson-Dobbs.

“This represents what we see as the future in healthcare: partnerships, collaboration and community connections, using our respective strengths and skills to provide the best care possible for our patients and whānau.”

“We are very much looking forward to working together and are grateful for the faith our partners have in us.”

While initially focused on delivering primary care services similar to those delivered by general practice and Māori health providers, the partners acknowledge the potential for the scope of service to expand to include other community-based services in the future.

Hokonui Rūnanga manager Terry Nicholas says supporting the joint venture is a natural fit for the Rūnanga.

“It’s clear, we have to be future-focused - thinking about what health services our whānau and wider community need and how we can work together to deliver that care. This joint venture will be a platform on which to build broader and further-reaching health services in the future that meet our communities’ needs.”

Louise Fowler chair of Awarua Whānau Services and trustee of Te Rūnaka o Awarua Charitable Trust says: “ Through this partnership, we have an opportunity to not only pursue the aspirations and moemoeā of our tāua and kuia, both past and present , but support all our community in accessing and achieving hauora, for them and their whānau.”

Invercargill Primary Care Service

In February, WellSouth announced it planned to create a primary care service to supplement the general practice capacity currently available in Invercargill. 

The new service will support patients who are not currently enrolled with a practice, providing access to care and the same funded programmes delivered at most other general practices.

A draft model of care for the new service is being created along with the business plan and WellSouth has begun recruiting staff for the primary care service. Rūnaka partners are supporting these efforts.

This new partnership follows the agreement signed in March with Southern health providers and the Murihiku and Araiteuru Papatipu Rūnaka, representing Māori from across Otago and Southland. That agreement renews health providers’ commitment to improve equity of access and health outcomes for Māori.

 WellSouth chairman Dr Doug Hill says this new partnership in Invercargill is the spirit of that agreement in action and has the potential to make a genuine difference to Māori health outcomes in the Southern region.   

“The new health reforms have made it clear that all primary health providers in a locality need to work more closely together to make healthcare more accessible, and the health system easier to navigate. As the leading provider of primary healthcare in the Southern locality, WellSouth is committed to working closely with iwi to make sure this happens.”


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