Dr Tom Huitson
GP , Tui Ora Family Health
Taranaki Family Health’s newest GP, Tom Huitson, has noticed huge similarities and differences since arriving at the practice in October 2018.
He, his wife and young daughter hail from London where most recently he worked in Gospel Oak, which has a large Bangladeshi community. The surgery where he practiced included a drug and alcohol clinic and many patients struggled with daily health and life challenges.
TOFH is a Very Low-Cost Practice (VLCP) where patient fees are subsidised but, even so, Dr Tom has noticed that this can be an important barrier for many patients. In the UK doctors’ visits are free so it’s a very different model of care.
“In London we would readily bring people back to see us for follow up. Here, patients will often present with a list of problems which can be challenging.”
At TOFH nurses perform an effective triage role, often dealing with the more straightforward cases that Tom might have seen as a GP in the UK. That also changes the nature of consultations, meaning each one tends to be complex.
However, his impressions of Kiwi patients are that they are very friendly and greatly appreciate the continuity of having a regular named GP.
“They are always very respectful and courteous and thankful. They seem to have a relationship with their doctor…there is a willingness to engage and chat.”
TOFH’s location inside the wider organisation of Tui Ora has also struck Tom.
“We don’t have this kind of organisation.” Grouping a range of services, disciplines and specialities on site appeals to him and he appreciates the physical proximity of other staff, enabling the ability of practitioners to talk together and share notes.
Tom went to school in Southampton, before studying and working in London. In the UK he was a Teaching Fellow so he supported medical students about to enter the profession.
He and wife Laura are living in Oakura and opted to move here following the recommendations of friends who had travelled and lived here. Timing was appropriate given the age of their pre-school daughter and it was a new challenge and time for a change for the couple, he says.