Doctors have joined the call to reinstate the Hunga Manaaki service in Rotorua which was disbanded by the Lakes District Health Board last week.
Dr Mania Campbell Seymour and six other doctors have set up an online petition and claim the service provides valuable cultural and clinical support to patients and staff at Rotorua Hospital.
They are also very concerned that the discontinuation of the Hunga Manaaki service may impact negatively on Māori Health outcomes.
Lakes DHB issued a statement last Friday saying it was ending its contract with Te Kāhui Hauora which runs the Hunga Manaaki programme.
The statement said, “The service will now be incorporated into a new expanded service, based on the Whanau Ora model, and will have a wider community focus instead of solely hospital. The new service will provide navigation, care and support to Maori and their whānau using Lakes DHB hospital and mental health services.”
Te Whakaruruhau o Ngāti Whakaue has also expressed extreme disappointment at the decision and held a meeting on Sunday where at least 250 people gathered in support of Hunga Manaaki.
Ngāti Whakaue says they were concerned at the lack of data informing the termination of the service.
They also called for an urgent meeting with Lakes DHB to discuss their concerns and the future of the programme.
In a written statement, the Lakes DHB acknowledged it should have done things better and said the Chief Executive Ron Dunham was arranging a time to speak with mana whenua about the issue.
The online petition currently has over 500 signatures and according to the medical professionals supporting it, “As a group of healthcare professionals, we are very concerned that the discontinuation of the Hunga Manaaki service at Rotorua Hospital may impact negatively on Māori Health outcomes. We are concerned about the lack of consultation regarding the decision to discontinue this service. We are also concerned that the true value of Hunga Manaaki has not been acknowledged or appreciated.”
Lakes DHB says it will not make further comment on the issue until it has met with mana whenua.
The petition can be located by clicking this link.