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Health Hub medical centre poised to take over empty Cinema Gold premises

A group of Palmerston North doctors have put their money where their mouth is as they try to address growing difficulties in access to medical care.

Health Hub Project NZ aims to "rattle cages" and "make changes", Dr David Hill says.

The city's new medical centre was due to open in May, but suffered a setback with paperwork and compliance.

Speaking at a Palmerston North Rotary meeting, Hill criticised the healthcare system, calling it an "archaic model" that was "no longer fit for purpose" in the 21st century.

"It's not sustainable from an affordability point of view and it's not sustainable because that gap between those people who can access health and those who can't is increasing, so we have to change."

Hill has practised medicine for 40 years, including experience working in Dannevirke, and at the emergency department as the clinical director.

He has seencases of children with rheumatic fever and cases of 4 or 5 year olds with chronic lung disease because they get recurrent chest infections.

The same problems were not being dealt with properly, he said.

Healthcare needed to move away from the idea of spending 15 minutes with a doctor and solving a problem with a prescription, he said.

Patients with mental health problems needed more than that – "and yet our current funding and our current structures only allow that".

"The waiting list for psychological services in Palmerston North at the moment is four months."

Clinicians needed to treat "not just the patient's medical problems, but the issues that patient faces in their everyday life".

"By the time you have come to the doctor, it's perhaps too late. It's usually the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. So let's push the ambulance back up."

Hill said the Health Hub would provide social services as well as medical services.

It would be focused on wellness, education and research, and won't take money from the MidCentral District Health Board.

A community-run charitable trust will own 51 per cent and work with private equity investors.

The new clinic will house 15 consultation rooms, while also acting as a base for staff to go out into the community.

It was replacing the old Cinema Gold movie theatre in Downtown on Broadway Ave.

More than 4000 patients had already signed up with the practice.

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