Free GP service for vulnerable whānau in West Auckland

By Regan Paranihi

West Auckland’s busiest Salvation Army centre is providing a free medical clinic once a week for the month of July to help whānau members who are struggling to make ends meet during the winter season.  

National Director of Community Jono Bell says that during the winter months vulnerable people struggle with warmth, shelter and food which can lead to many health problems.  As a result, the Waitakere Salvation Army has teamed up with NZ Home Doctors to provide a registered General Practitioner for those in need.

“We see this as a real opportunity to reach people with medical help over winter when they come to us for emergency food, basic household items or housing,” says Bell.

There are many factors which contribute to vulnerable families not seeing a GP but the latest Ministry of Health Annual Data Explorer shows that it often comes down to cost.

“It’s not only the fees that can be a barrier but also transport costs to get there.  Even with free doctors’ visits for children under 13, if there’s no car, no petrol and no bus money, it’s near impossible for some whānau."

Bell says the help for disadvantaged communities includes food parcels, budgeting advice, social work, youth development and now medical assistance.

The Salvation Army relies heavily on public donations to provide essential services to 120,000 people each year.  The organisation is pleading for those more fortunate to dig deep and donate.

“We humbly ask people to give generously to our Winter Appeal so we can continue to fight poverty in New Zealand,” says Bell.

The Salvation Army Winter Appeal runs from 8 July until the end of the month and people can donate by visiting www.salvationarmy.org.nz/winter.