Mum 'rapt' at free treatment
SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR, NICOLE MATHEWSON AND OLIVIA CARVILLE
Solo mum of two Nicola Wright is "rapt" she will soon be able to take both her sons to the doctor for free.
Yesterday's Budget announcement included the promise of free GP visits and prescriptions for all children aged under 13 from July 2015. Free doctor's visits and prescriptions are at present available only for children under 6.
Healthcare was a key concern for Wright, as both her young sons had asthma. It cost her more than $40 to take 7-year-old Shayden to visit a GP, while his younger brother Fynn, 5, was free.
She was pleased both boys would get free GP care from next year. "It is just a pity we have to wait for next year."
Wright said many families were struggling to make ends meet as the cost of housing, electricity and food continued to rise.
She had wished for GST to be removed from essential items like fresh fruit and vegetables.
"I haven't got a problem with cigarettes and alcohol going up - that's a luxury as far as I'm concerned. The veges and that, that's not a luxury though, that's a must."
Wright was also interested to see an extra $858 million in funding for education, as she was four months away from completing training to become a teacher's aide.
"I would like to know where that [money is] going," she said.
Nicky Harris yesterday took son Hector, 10, to get his sore ears checked by Dr Philip Frost at Aranui's Eastcare Health. She had hoped the announcement would kick in swiftly but, with two other children under the age of 10, free doctor visits from next July would be a welcome relief.
Frost said the move would "improve access to health" as some parents struggled to afford doctors' fees and prescription charges. "This is a high-needs area, parents tend to delay bringing their children in, in the hope they'll get better," he said.
Pegasus Health chief executive Vince Barry said the 2014 Budget had produced "another very good allocation of health funding".
The free GP visits for under 13-year-olds was one of the highlights, he said.
Templeton Medical Centre director Dr Peter Wilkinson said the Government's intention was "in the right place", but the change could result in over-anxious parents needlessly bringing their children to GPs. "Overall, this is a good thing as anything that improves child health is a good thing. My only concern is the potential over-servicing."
- The Press