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Criticism of new primary health system supported

Doctor’s criticism of new primary health system supported

National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott says she backs comments from a South Canterbury doctor against the Government’s restructure of primary health care.

Waimate doctor, Dr Hammond Williamson, has advocated in GP Weekly that doctors should be given funding to use at their own discretion, rather than be funded through primary health organisations.

“I support his call that GPs should be given the funding directly so that they can get on with their job. Primary health organisations (PHOs) won’t work for many communities - they will increase bureaucracy, costs and mean shorter GP visits. National has exposed that under PHOs one South Auckland medical practice is budgeting on doctors’ visits of just nine minutes.

“The Government’s own briefing papers, by the Ministry of Health, have already acknowledged that primary health organisations will be unfair to many patients.

“The papers showed that areas with high populations of Maori and Pacific Island people or people who are classified as ‘deprived’ will receive funding ahead of similar high-needs patients who live in more well-off areas.

“The Government is ignoring this anomaly and continues to open more PHOs despite many communities opposing them. The best way to deliver extra subsidies for primary health services is through the community services card, where those in most need get subsidised doctor visits,” Dr Scott said.

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