Better GP access for kids welcome

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 26/05/2014

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Manawatu's leading community health team is welcoming the extension of free doctor visits to children aged 6 to 13 years.

"Anything that makes it easier for families to ensure that all children can get access to primary healthcare as early as possible when the children can benefit from it most is a good thing," said Central PHO director of development and innovation Joe Howells.

He said there were plenty of examples of the unfortunate long-term consequences for children's health when the important first call for help was delayed.

The free visits and pharmacy prescriptions were announced in the Budget.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said $90 million would be available over three years from July 2015 so that about 400,000 primary school-aged children could go to a doctor for free, any time of the day or night.

Opposition health spokeswoman Annette King said the plan could unravel unless the Government could reassure doctors the subsidies offered would cover the costs without having to put charges up for adult patients to cover any shortfall.

Howells did not comment on Manawatu health providers' capacity to provide the extra free visits within the funding indicated.

"Both the PHO and our general practices will need to make sure that everyone is aware of this when it comes in on July 1 next year so that the families that can benefit most do in fact pick up on it."

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- Manawatu Standard

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