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Survey: More People Access Low Cost Primary Care

Media Release

July 07, 2008

Survey Suggests More People Are Accessing Low Cost Primary Health Care

Recent results from the Ministry of Health's NZ Health Survey of 17,000 kiwis indicate most adults and children have access to primary health care. But what is primary health care?

Erica Amon is Clinical Operations Manager of New Zealand's second largest primary health organisation, Waikato Primary Health. She says primary health care refers to professional health care people receive in the community and is the first point of contact with the health care system.

"Primary health care providers include doctors, nurses, podiatrists, Maori health workers, pharmacists, counsellors, and health promoters to name a few," says Amon.

"A strong primary health care system is central to improving the health of all New Zealanders and reducing health inequalities between different groups."

Amon agrees with the survey that large inequalities shown across a range of risk factors and health outcomes for Maori and Pacific people compared to the total population is concerning, and says it is a significant problem in the Waikato.

"Addressing these inequalities is a challenge for both the health system and wider society in our country, but is vitally important," she says.

"The survey indicates access for people is improving, with results showing that the number of adults unable to see a GP when needing to in the last 12 months has halved – this is a step forward.

"The survey also showed children and adults aged over 45 years were more likely to have a primary health care provider that they would go to first when feeling ill or injured than those aged 15 to 44. The group less likely, was seen in males aged 25 to 34 where there was only 83%. Asian men and women were the ethnic group least likely. Clearly, there are still too many people missing out on the financial and personal benefits enrolling can bring.

"We'd like to encourage more people to enrol with a PHO so they can receive cheaper doctor's visits and prescription fees and also to be able to access many free health services in the community," says Amon.

"Preventative care and interventions that identify disease early on before it causes poor health are also an important part of comprehensive health care services. The survey shows that dialogue on healthy lifestyle occurs regularly, plus activities such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks, flu vaccination, and cervical smears occur often - these are positive findings," says Amon.

There are many opportunities throughout the community for people to receive support. For example: a programme has been designed by psychologists to help older people manage life with age-related changes; a free sexual health and contraception service is offered for under 25 year olds living in rural areas via GPs and nurses; marae based clinics have been set up; there is subsidised long term contraception available; a range of interventions are in place to improve oral health in children; there is a free home visiting service for palliative care patients; and subsidised counselling for those with mild to moderate depression, anxiety or grief issues is available.

Enrolling with Waikato Primary Health or any PHO is free. To enrol, a person must complete a form for themselves or their family members at a medical practice of their choice.

To view A Portrait of Health; Key Results of the 2006/2007 New Zealand Health Survey please visit

To find out more about enrolling with Waikato Primary Health visit


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