Another $500,000 is coming into the Kaikoura, southern Marlborough and Hurunui regions to help residents deal with the ongoing trauma of the Kaikoura earthquake.
Free GP visits and targeted support for schools are on the cards, as well as programmes to assist mental health and wellbeing.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman made the announcement at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, on Friday.
The Government was committed to continuing to provide assistance to the earthquake-stricken regions, as the worst psychosocial effects of earthquakes were felt years afterwards.
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“We want to continue to support [the regions],” Coleman said.
“It’s really important to continue to monitor how people are feeling.”
Straight after the earthquake a package of $3.76 million was given to the affected regions, which included a $2m cash injection so Kaikoura people did not have to keep paying off their new health hub.
The initial funding was “extremely well-received”, but was only intended to provide support in the short term, Coleman said.
“The psychosocial recovery needs of the communities will change over time.”
Coleman said it was up to the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board how they wanted to allocate the free GP visits.
Marlborough PHO programme manager for clinical services and integration Glenis McAlpine said “basically anyone” would be able to visit their GP for a free consultation if they lived in Seddon, Ward, Clarence and Kekerengu.
If people went two or three times for the same problem there was “no issue with that”, she said.
Since the earthquake there had been 7000 free GP visits in Kaikoura and Hurunui, while in Ward, Seddon and Kekerengu there had been more than 650 visits.
Coleman said $100,000 would go towards giving the All Right? programme used after the Christchurch earthquakes a rural focus, improving people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
An NMDHB spokeswoman said the Canterbury District Health Board would be developing the programme, which would be used in Marlborough, Kaikoura and Hurunui, and then around the country.
Another $100,000 would go towards targeted support for schools, to help staff and students deal with the after-effects of the earthquake.
The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and the Top of the South Rural Support Trust would receive $50,000 in total, to help rural people access to health and well-being activities.
Members of the alliance and the trust could not be reached for comment.
NMDHB assistant chief medical officer John Welch said after the earthquake there was a “flurry” of attendees to Wairau Hospital’s mental health ward, including people who had lost their medication, and elderly people who were very stressed.
However that had since settled down, he said.
Coleman said the National Government was working on a “refresh” of its mental health strategy nationwide, and taking a more holistic approach to the problem.
“A lot of it’s to do with looking at what happens in the community,” Coleman said.
“We have a very complex society, with social media and exposure to all sorts of pressure.”
McAlpine said the three “navigators” in the Marlborough area were doing a good job directing people to the right healthcare provider and linking them into services they needed, for instance Ministry of Social Development services and and the EQC.
“It’s anything that will pave the way forward for them.”
Taking a holistic approach was “critical” when it came to the wellbeing of people after disasters. People were not going to be worried about their health if they did not have adequate shelter or access to water, she said.
NMDHB board member Gerald Hope said the new funding was very welcome.