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GP group calls for urgent action on funding

25 September 2008

GP group calls for urgent action on funding ‘after hours’ care

Community doctors and nurses say an incoming government must urgently provide more funding for after hours services to ensure affordable patient access.

The Independent Practitioners Association Council (IPAC) - the organisation representing General Practice doctors and nurses – says a recent Ministry of Health survey showed after hours charges in many regions of more than $45 for children and $65 for adults.

IPAC says government funding for Primary Health Care does not acknowledge or include the cost of after hours services and IPAC is very concerned about the impact this is having on patient access.

IPAC’s Chair Dr Bev O’Keefe, says the Government has not listened to GPs’ suggestions about funding requirements to support a full spectrum of primary health services including after hours care.

“There is an urgent need for a consistent national funding system to ensure availability of after hours services.”

“The problem is particularly acute in rural areas but General Practices in all regions are struggling to provide affordable access and many families face high fees for middle-of-the-night care for themselves or their children.”

“The government has moved to subsidise day-time doctor visits but it has ignored adequate funding for after hours care”.

Improving access to general practice is one of the key issues highlighted in a new “General Practice election manifesto” released by IPAC today.

The Manifesto has been sent to Members of Parliament, and will shortly be available in practices around the country.

“There has been a breakdown in trust between General Practice and the Government – we urgently need to rebuild the relationship so that key access and funding issues can be properly discussed and addressed.”

To ensure patients continue to get access to affordable care, the Manifesto calls for:

• Urgent new funding for after hours services

• Targeted support for those on low or assisted incomes

• Training for more doctors and nurses to cover a looming workforce crisis

• The establishment of a General Practice Advisory Board reporting direct to the Minister of Health to rebuild the relationship with primary care providers.

“The current funding system is not keeping pace with costs and General Practices are struggling to provide affordable services.”

“We are losing four doctors and nurses a week to retirement or career burnout and General Practice can’t attract enough newcomers to fill the gaps.

“If nothing changes under the next Government, patients will wait longer and pay more for everyday health care.”

“Successive Governments have promised a primary care led health system – it is time to deliver.”

Ends

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