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Perseverance despite a pandemic: WellSouth Annual Report 2020

Thursday 12 November 2020


COVID-19 features large, but WellSouth Primary Health Network and general practice have made  progress supporting primary health care in the South during 2020.

Perseverance despite a pandemic could be the theme of WellSouth’s Annual Report 2020, with the primary health network moving forward in a number of key areas of health service delivery and support for general practices.

“No question the COVID-19 response is the predominant feature in 2020, and we are tremendously proud of the work we have done,” says WellSouth CEO, Andrew Swanson-Dobbs. “But when our teams weren’t kitted-out in PPE to swab thousands of Southerners in CBACs, church halls and marae, carparks and  backpackers – we were doing what we do best and that’s supporting and enabling the effective delivery of primary health care services and helping patients to access other care services they need.”

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, WellSouth made a number of significant steps forward during 2020, including:

  • Introducing new mental health and well-being resources, Health Improvement Practitioners and Health Coaches based in general practices.
  • Expanding the Health Care Home programme to14 from 8 practices, representing 118,00 patients, and providing more options for receiving care, better access to same day appointments, and improving long-term conditions support.
  • Creating the WellSouth Call Centre.
  • Promoting and supporting telehealth options for care – both for general practices and WellSouth clinicians.
  • Taking strides forward in many areas of information technology – including data analyses and security.
  • Workforce development, including a practice nurses conference in Queenstown in September and a collaborative workshop for GPs and hospital specialist at Southland Hospital in January, which brought together 80 clinicians.
  • Continuing work to implement the Primary and Community Care Strategy.

WellSouth chairman, Dr Doug Hill, says the work done by general practice and WellSouth during 2020 shows the value of well-organized and connected primary care.

“General practices were at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 in this region and part of the reason we were able to respond so quickly and so effectively, leading COVID-19 testing in the community, is because of our primary health network,” Dr Hill says.

“I’d like to say thank you and kudos to practices and to WellSouth staff for the work that you do for patients and their whānau. Let’s build on the momentum, on the resilience and responsiveness we have shown, and continue to move forward.”


In addition to general practice teams, Mr Swanson-Dobbs said WellSouth continued to work closely with Southern DHB, its public health service, the Southern Māori Health Directorate and community providers to ensure health care services are connected and available where and when they’re most needed.

“Southland and Otago is a big, big region and making health service equitably available is not simple. Our advantage is that we work closely with our partners and we know that with open lines of communications and a willingness to collaborate, we’ll make further progress in the year ahead.”

About WellSouth

 WellSouth Primary Health Network supports general practice teams and coordinates and helps in the delivery of primary health care on the lower South Island.

 Our aim is to support people to look after themselves, promote healthy environments and help provide care, and access to care, where it’s needed.



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