Free care for kids
General practice care at nightIAN ALLEN
Children under 6 can go to the doctor after hours for free under a new scheme launched in Marlborough.
However, health officials have warned parents to use the service for only urgent care. It started on Sunday.
Marlborough primary health organisation chief executive Christine Smith said there was a risk children would lose touch with their family doctor if they went to the after-hours clinic frequently.
The after-hours clinic in Blenheim, based at Wairau Hospital, had a different doctor every night, Ms Smith said.
The service, which used to cost $22, was being jointly funded by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation and the after-hours GPs in Blenheim, she said.
The scheme, being rolled out nationally, would stop parents taking sick children to the emergency ward at night, the chief executive added.
"You can see why people took their kids to the emergency department, but now they can get general practice care."
Most doctor surgeries in Marlborough provided free healthcare to children under 6 during the day, she said.
Health board community-based services manager Bruce Moorhead said regular GPs knew their patients' health needs best.
"After-hours services are for urgent health issues on evenings, weekends and public holidays when people would normally see their family doctor."
"Enrolment with a GP encourages a strong relationship with the people who look after your health, who will get to know you and/or your family and be familiar with your health needs."
- The Marlborough Express