Midlands Health Network manages the community health care of nearly half a million people enrolled with more than 100 practices in Gisborne, Taranaki, Taupo-Turangi, and the Waikato. We are a network of like-minded general practitioners and health professionals and we exist for one - and only one reason –
to make it easier for people to stay healthy.
Our General Practices are working together to take advantage of the benefits that size can provide in terms of accessing the very latest thinking, techniques, equipment and funding. The Network is a not-for-profit organisation that works with us, to work for you.
One year...just a year... that was the plan for Dr Claire Jenks, husband Mike and their two children Amy and Ben, when they decided to move from the UK to New Zealand. Years later they have settled into the kiwi lifestyle and their home at Waihi Beach. The move was sparked by the family’s desire to live by the sea.
One day while perusing the British Medical Journal for jobs Claire spotted a recruitment advertisement. “We had been chatting about moving further afield, especially while the children were still at primary school. I sent my CV off to the recruitment agency and while we were on holiday in the United States I received a call to say there were four practices interested in talking with me,” she says. The family enjoys living in Waihi Beach and has travelled quite a bit since arriving in Godzone. Claire says working in general practice in New Zealand is fun, happy and relaxed. “I’m quite an expert at fish hook removal and can treat stingray barb stings,” she says. “I have also learnt that a ‘blue bottle’ is a nasty jellyfish, not the giant house fly by the same name in the UK.” Appointment times here are longer than in the UK, which gives Claire a chance to catch up with the locals and find out the best fishing spots and places to visit. Getting the kids into school wasn’t a problem either. They contacted Waihi Beach School and the reaction was ‘no worries – see you when you arrive.’
Claire’s parents have visited twice since 2007. Mike’s mum made a five week visit. “It could be argued that we have seen more of the family since moving down under than we would have back in the UK,” she says. “I miss my sister, her hubby and their three children - she managed to visit us on her 40th birthday and while she was here we did the Tongariro Crossing.” “Some days when it’s rainy and cold we think of the ‘old country’. But it’s hard to beat a sunny morning on the deck with your breakfast cup of tea, watching a pod of dolphins playing out in the surf. We don’t miss the English non-summers or the UK nanny state,” she says.
In their free time Claire and Mike enjoy fishing. “We have at least eight fishing rods; the kids have their own rods, there are boat rods, soft bait rods, surfcasting rods and a long line. And the fish are excellent - snapper, kingfish, kahawai and gurnard.” In the Winter the family has a four hour drive to the ski fields where they are able to park right at the base of their chair lift. “It’s all very affordable and cheaper than the European slopes.”
The shift from holiday mode to daily life in New Zealand has had its challenges, but thanks to a great group of colleagues, Dr Henk Kroesbergen and his family are enjoying their new life in Te Awamutu. Dr Kroesbergen has been working as a GP at Te Awamutu Medical Centre since February 2011.
Originally from Arnehem in the Netherlands, he moved to New Zealand to create a better lifestyle for his family. “Working in Holland can be very strenuous. Sometimes I would work over 60 hours a week and be waiting in two-hour traffic jams everyday. You can imagine this puts great pressure on your family,” he says. Dr Kroesbergen had heard great things about New Zealand from colleagues who had spent some time working here. “We wanted to move to an English-speaking country, and we were considering both Australia and New Zealand. If we had chosen Australia, we would have ended up in quite a desolate location.
Being in an unknown country with a different medical system, I needed to feel more secure about my environment and the supervision I would receive. Because New Zealand had a good infrastructure and a well-developed second line, we chose to go to New Zealand,” he says. Dr Kroesbergen immediately clicked with staff at Te Awamutu Medical Centre. “When I spoke to them over the phone, they were very welcoming and helpful, and they were very enthusiastic about their profession and the practice. I was confident that they would do their best to make the transition as easy as possible. “Since the first day, the staff at Te Awamutu Medical Centre have given me all the time and space I need to adjust well to general practice in New Zealand. I was surprised by the thousands of practical little issues that would be different from working in the Netherlands, ranging from the how to pronounce the names of common medicines in English, to everyday things like making a referral.
There are also other local things that I have had to deal with, like a patient who came into the practice on my first day with a White Tail spider bite; we don’t have that in the Netherlands so I had to look it up!” Dr Kroesbergen believes there are many great opportunities currently available to GPs in New Zealand, particularly with the shift to patient-centred primary health care. But mostly, it is the patients themselves who have made his experience here so valuable. “I very much like the daily contact with patients; it’s very rewarding. I also like the contact with colleagues - just being able to walk into each others consultation rooms to discuss a patient’s diagnosis together, or to get a second opinion when you’re not sure. The whole atmosphere in the practice if very friendly and informal,” Henk says.
Midlands Health Network opperates in the following regions of New Zealand: