One of Canterbury’s long-established Primary Health Organisations is changing its name.

Rural Canterbury Primary Health Organisation (RCPHO), which has been supporting General Practices and providing community-based health services since 2003, has changed its name to Waitaha Primary Health.

Chief Executive Bill Eschenbach says the new name better reflects the PHO’s commitment to both urban and rural communities across Canterbury. It also heralds an exciting new vision for the organisation.

“It’s extraordinary to map our development over 16 years. We now serve communities from Cheviot in the north to Tinwald in the south, west to Hanmer Springs, and east to Akaroa. While we remain committed to rural Canterbury, our name change acknowledges the breadth of our work in a wide range of Canterbury communities.”

In addition to supporting General Practices, Waitaha Primary Health delivers many community-based services including diabetes care; baby feeding services; youth care; mental health care; end-of-life care; and Whānau Ora and Pasifika Support navigators.

Bill says the organisation has a deep understanding of the different challenges faced in rural and urban communities, particularly after the Canterbury and Kaikōura earthquakes and the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

“When times have been tough for our practices and communities we have been there. We provide a wealth of services but are nimble enough to respond quickly in a crisis,” he says. “Waitaha, the Māori name for Canterbury, is about our organisation’s strong sense of belonging to this region and our awareness of the needs of its people.”

Bill says the name change also supports Waitaha Primary Health’s focus on renewed growth and a commitment to innovation. Key areas of focus include providing practices with Telesmart, which allows GPs to connect with patients via secure video; extending its GP locum service; responding to the growing demand for mental health services; and progressing the Community Connector role, which links people who are socially or physically isolated to community and health services.

“Waitaha Primary Health is incredibly well connected to key community organisations and the wider health system in Aotearoa and well positioned to become an even stronger advocate for our region in the health sector,” Bill says.