Te Whare Oranga opens to help with unregistered patients in the Far North

A group of Māori practice nurses in the Far North have banded together to address the lack of GPs in the area.

Te Whare Oranga in Kaitāia opened this week to treat more than 3,000 people who don’t have a GP.

The clinic has been opened under Māori not-for-profit ANT (Ngāi Takoto, Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa) Trust and is a continuation of the mahi the trust has done since the beginning of the pandemic, including the setting up of the Taitokerau Border Patrol.

The clinic will have on-site all-Māori nurses with support from an off-site doctor.

Adrian Marsden says the whare is a response from the community, many of whom were not registered with a GP before the pandemic struck.

“They shared with us their stories about the help that they weren’t getting. The lack of access, not being heard. So I said to Hone Harawira that we should stay in this business, and I said we should set up a clinic. He goes, ‘How do you do that?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.”

Doctor Lance O’Sullivan says the clinic will use modern technology to cater to the patients.

“This is a new method of delivering health services for those of us who are striving for better outcomes for places like Kaitāia.”

“We set up all the information needed for a doctor who is situated off-site, a virtual consultation. So that is how we will run the clinic.”

Te Aka Whai Ora chief medical officer Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen says there is a nationwide shortage of GPs, which makes it even more difficult for those without a GP to find one.

“Given the workforce complexities and challenges that we’ve got and trying to understand new ways of doing the business of primary and community care, where we use more nursing capabilities. So nurse-led services, I think, will be a feature.”

And the community has been quick to get on board, with close to 100 patients registering in the first week.