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NZ's first Primary Health Organisations formed

1 July 2002

New Zealand’s first Primary Health Organisations formed

Health Minister Annette King says the Government's aim to improve the overall health of New Zealanders has moved a step closer with the formation in South Auckland of the country’s first two new primary health care groups.

TaPasefika Health Trust and Te Kupenga O Hoturoa are the country's first Primary Health Organisations and will be working with low-income, high-need groups in the Counties Manukau District Health Board region.

Ms King said she was delighted these PHOs were ready to begin implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy, which aims to give all New Zealanders access to good, affordable primary health care.

“PHOs are crucial to achieving better primary health care in our communities, to help turn around some of the poor health statistics, particularly those with high health needs and low income. We want to reduce health inequalities and give New Zealanders more affordable primary health care services. This means an increased emphasis on population-based care, and PHOs will spearhead that.''

Ms King said GPs, nurses, Maori and Pacific providers were showing a lot of interest in PHOs and the Strategy. Communities in areas such as the East Coast, Waitemata, MidCentral, West Coast, Northland, Hutt Valley, Lakes and Waikato are expected to launch PHOs later this year, and an announcement from Hutt DHB is expected shortly. In addition, some larger GP groups in regions such as Waitemata and MidCentral are also exploring community options.

Ms King said more PHOs would be formed in the coming months, but those with a high concentration of people with high health needs would be the first to get increased levels of funding, allowing them to charge patients less. Cheaper services would be extended to more people over the next few years, as more funding becomes available.

The Government has allocated a total of $400 million over three years for primary health care.

Not only would the full implementation of the Primary Health Care Strategy help coordinate professional resources better in the community, it would also ease pressure on some hospital accident and emergency departments, she said.

“This is all about keeping people well in their communities.
“For various reasons primary health care has been neglected in the past, and now we have unacceptably high levels of preventable sickness and death among certain population groups in New Zealand. This needs to change, and PHOs implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy will be the groups to help us do that.''

Moving to a system where everyone can get low-cost access to care would eventually result in the Community Services Card being phased out. This would happen over the next eight to 10 years, but Ms King said many people would start noticing changes within the next few months.


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