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Readying for the health system of the future: WellSouth Annual Report 2021-2022

Tuesday 08 November 2022

WellSouth made an even more significant contribution to the health sector response to the Covid global pandemic in the 2021-2022 financial year and continued to support the delivery of routine and preventative healthcare during challenging times.

While leading Covid testing in the region as they have since 2020, WellSouth, general practices, and other providers also implemented the new Covid Care in the Community programme, and played a key role in Covid vaccinations.

Managing risks, traffic light settings, vaccine mandates, and the Covid outbreak, healthcare providers in Southern worked to ensure that services and care were available whenever possible.

These are among the achievements outlined in WellSouth’s 2021/22 Annual Report. The report, tabled at the Annual General Meeting held at Hokonui Runanga on Tuesday 08 November, summarises the primary health network’s major work programmes and progress made in advance of national health reforms.



Highlights for 2021-22:

  • Growth to Access and Choice Programme. More than 50 practitioners in 33 general practices, representing more than two-thirds of the enrolled population in Southern.

  • Te Hau o Te Ora. A historic agreement signing created a new partnered primary care service.  Awarua Whānau Services, Hokonui Runanga, and WellSouth joined together to help support the needs of unenrolled patients, particularly Māori whānau, and support the sustainability of primary care services in the Southland region. 

  • Covid Care in the Community.  Safely supporting and caring for patients at home was the aim of this novel programme of care. Led by Clinical Director Dr Carol Atmore a ‘Care Hub’ was created and, in cooperation, with general practice teams and other health and social service providers. A comprehensive system of support and clinical care was created to ensure people were safe and health services were supported.

  • Staffing. WellSouth’s People and Culture staff and team leaders quickly recruited and onboarded staff for Covid Care in the Community, Covid testing centres and vaccination programmes, as well as the Access and Choice and other clinical services.

  • Growing Partnerships. Across the organisation, WellSouth staff strengthened existing relationships and partnerships and created new alliances, particularly with Māori and Pasifika leaders, and, as a result, the Covid programmes of work saw WellSouth work more closely with Māori and Pacific providers. The Te Hau o Te Ora partnership, meanwhile, serves as a model for future health services delivery.

Most challenging year

WellSouth Board of Trustee Chair Dr Doug Hill said the 2021-22 financial year was likely the most challenging year for health providers and pressure was felt across the system.

“What’s been achieved is really remarkable. I want to express my sincere thanks to general practice teams and WellSouth staff and our provider partners for the incredible amount of work that was done again this year – particularly with regards to the Covid response.

“For WellSouth, I think what we’ve seen more clearly than ever is that we are trusted partners and we’re in a very good position to meet the demands of the health system of the future. We have a strong and dedicated workforce and good relationships in the community, and our plan is to build on these strengths to improve equity and access to care.”


Increased funding

Like all agencies in the health sector, WellSouth managed more funding and additional funding streams in 2021/22. Over $40-million in additional Covid funding was distributed last year, increasing turnover to $142-million from $101-million the year prior.

“These are funds were distributed to general practices and other providers doing testing, delivering the vaccine, and providing Covid Care in the Community support,” Dr Hill says.

The increase in funding from Covid work is unprecedented and is unlikely to continue, says WellSouth Chief Executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs: “It’s always been clear that these funding streams would cease at some point. But what has been clearly demonstrated is that more services can be delivered in the primary and community care space.

“It’s evident that much more can be done in general practice and through community providers. So now, for WellSouth, for general practices, and other community agencies, this is a time of momentous opportunity: what else can we do and what do we want to do next?” 


Strategic Direction

Successes and strengths showcased through the work of the 2021-22 financial year is helping to set the tone and direction for the future for WellSouth.

With once-in-a-generation health reforms underway, WellSouth’s board drafted a new strategy to help guide activity for the coming year and beyond.

“True equity, genuine partnerships, and better health outcomes are the priority and are the measure for programmes and activity for the future,” Dr Hill explains.  

“This is genuinely putting support for Māori, Pacific Island, rural communities, and those who are disadvantage, at the forefront of health and social services.”


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