New clinic makes skin cancer care accessible

Quicker care ... Doctor Jochen Clemens and Doctor Jeremy Maarschalk are running their own Skin clinic in Gore. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

Two Gore GPs have opened a skin clinic in Gore.

Drs Jeremy Maarschalk and Jochen Clemens have recently opened the Southern Skin Clinic, operating out of Gore Hospital and Gore Medical Centre.

The pair are fully accredited New Zealand skin cancer doctors.

Dr Clemens said funding for that care had previously only been available for a small number of skin lesions to be carried out at GP practices.

‘‘There was a change in . . . the funding structure for skin lesions,’’ Dr Clemens said.

‘‘The hospitals got completely swamped and there wasn’t any facilities in place which would cater to people who couldn’t afford private surgery.’’

There had been talk for a long time about addressing that issue but, until the pandemic, it never came to fruition, he said.

Private funding was not an option for many patients, so a new funding system was established, he said.

Patients could now be referred by a healthcare professional for funded removal of skin lesions to WellSouth for triaging.

Dr Maarschalk said some skin lesions would be accepted to be funded, while others needed further investigation to be funded.

In New Zealand, skin cancer in the form of melanoma was highly prevalent, he said.

But historically, Southland had not had enough skin cancer treatment available, Dr Maarschalk said.

The two doctors wanted to provide residents of Southland and nearby areas with quicker access to skin cancer care.

‘‘Earlier treatment. That is one of the bigger advantages, ’’ Dr Maarschalk said. ‘‘Before, people who couldn’t afford to have it done privately would have to wait a long time for the hospital.’’

This would lead to lengthy delays in treatment, he said.

Not many doctors had the accreditation to do operations for the funded scheme, he said.

The pair focused on treatments that could be treated under local anesthetic, he said.

‘‘That will make up the vast majority of our work.’’

Clients are coming from Invercargill, Balclutha, Tapanui, Te Anau and Roxburgh as well as Gore.

‘‘We’re already seeing it’s opening up to a lot more people, so a lot more people are getting timely skin cancer treatment.

‘‘Now it’s got to the point where we’ve got more and more referrals coming in.’’

Their clinic can also treat skin lesions and other skin-related issues, as well as vasectomies, trigger finger surgery and carpal tunnel surgery.

However, those treatments would have to be privately funded.

At present, Gore Health offered the MoleMap service, which the doctors did not have a direct relationship with.

However, they would take patient referrals if suspicious lesions had been diagnosed.