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National Health Committee Report On Primary Health

17 December 2000 Media Statement

National Health Committee Report On Primary Health Care


Health Minister Annette King has welcomed the National Health Committee's recommendations on primary health care, saying the NHC's approach is largely in accord with the Government's own approach.

"Both the NHC and the Government strongly support the notion that population-based approaches offer the best way for primary health care to make communities healthier. That philosophy underpins the New Zealand Health Strategy I launched last Monday (11 December), and strongly featured in our primary health care strategy discussion document," Mrs King said.

"We also believe primary health care offers the best, most efficient and affordable way to reach individuals and communities who are currently disadvantaged or under-served in terms of health."

Mrs King said she "couldn't agree more that a focus on health promotion, early intervention and disease prevention offers the best way of turning some of this country's health statistics around. Where there may be some difference between the NHC and this Government is not in terms of commitment to primary health care, but in terms of the pace of change and the country's ability to pay.

"I agree it would be ideal if the country could move to fully funded primary health care over the next five years, but it may not be practical to re-allocate resources as quickly as that. What this Government can do, however, is send a strong signal to the whole health sector that our priorities lie with primary health care.

"That is the way we have to go. We spend more than $7 billion annually on health now, and we cannot just keep on spending more. We need to spend more wisely instead, by shifting the emphasis to primary health care, because it is much cheaper and more efficient to keep people well in the first place instead of treating them in hospital. I think most New Zealanders would agree with that sentiment."

Mrs King said the Government also supported the concepts of capitation and interdisciplinary teams as logical ways of funding and service delivery, and the New Zealand Health Strategy endorsed the philosophy that an inter-sectoral approach was needed to address health inequalities.

Ends

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