“The rationale behind this is to bring the public health services to the people, rather than us sitting up at the hospital waiting for the people to come to us,” says Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Hermann.
“As always, it’s down to money and we are waiting for the budget so that funding can be allocated.”
She says the Health Ministry needs money to pay for maintenance, petrol and other necessary items such as warrants of fitness.
“We will take it on the road slowly, just at the one venue for a couple of hours a week to begin with.”
She envisages that dentists, nurses and other clinical staff from the hospital will man the bus.
“It’s a way to get general practitioners away from the hospital and into the community.
“Once that is underway, and we do need the community to buy into it – if the community uptake is good, we can look at extending the hours.”
Once the first venue for the bus is up and running, it is hoped that a second venue can then also be established, probably at Arorangi.
The bus was donated to the Ministry of Health by New Zealand transport company director Paul Snelgrove of Tranzit Group, after the idea was first touted by the Masterton South Rotary Club in New Zealand.
The Rotary club oversaw the fit-out of the vehicle, from supplying hospital equipment to installing solar power and an air conditioning unit. Graphics decorating the bus are the work of a local designer.