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Twenty two new Primary Health Organisations begin

Twenty two new Primary Health Organisations begin

Health Minister Annette King says one in four New Zealanders, about a million people, will receive their primary health care through Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) from tomorrow.

Ms King said 22 news PHOs would begin operating tomorrow, bringing the total to 34 since the first PHOs were established on July 1 last year. Most of the 34 PHOs are funded using the Access formula that allows patients to be charged low fees.

"What's most significant is that 28 of them are funded in such a way that all New Zealanders enrolled with them will pay $20 or less for a standard visit to see a doctor or other health care worker.

"That means that some 700,000 New Zealanders will not only be able to receive a much broader range of primary health care services through their PHO, but, most crucially, will be able to afford to do so.

"Our priority has always been to bring cheaper primary health care to those New Zealanders with the greatest health needs first. We have known for too long that the costs of seeing a doctor has been a very real deterrent to many people, and this of course shows when they turn up at hospital very sick," Ms King said.

“Through this Government’s injection of $400 million in new money for primary health care this year and over the next two years, PHOs are being introduced progressively throughout the country.

“Our eventual aim is to provide accessible and affordable primary health care for all New Zealanders. I am delighted at the progress so far. It exceeds all my expectations.

“I congratulate the new PHOs for embracing this opportunity to make primary health care more accessible and the District Health Boards who have worked with them to make this happen.”

Ms King said PHOs are not just there to provide affordable care. “They also aim to ensure that people who haven't traditionally used primary health care services, but who need to do so, are getting access to appropriate care and advice. Even Interim Formula PHOs, that are not yet funded to reduce doctor's fees, have been given more money to get services to these people who have been missing out.”

"I have also recognised the concerns of some doctors that patients enrolled with interim formula PHOs may still have high health needs and may need to see a doctor frequently. I have therefore agreed to a trial, giving some interim formula PHOs extra funding to lower costs for those with chronic illness or a history of high service use. If the trials are successful, the funding will be extended to all PHOs.

“Good management of individuals with diseases like diabetes, with regular advice and patient contact can drastically reduce the harm caused by the disease. PHOs allow us to provide more of this sort of care and support around the country.”

Ms King said the 34 PHOs were geographically spread over 13 of the 21 DHBs, and more PHOs would be announced on July 1. "I am delighted with the feedback I receive from patients enrolled in PHOs and from staff involved in running them." I believe we are getting very good results from the extra money we are investing in primary health care." A list of all PHOs is attached, plus questions and answers.

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