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Children's health services in crisis

Children's health services in crisis

National says sick children are missing out on health services because there is no national contract for paediatric neurology services, which caters for children with complicated conditions.

"Children in many parts of the country who suffer complex seizures, cancer, and other neurological conditions can't get to see the specialist because there are no services provided. The worst affected areas are Otago, Wellington and Northland," National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott says.

"The reason is that there is no national contract operated by the Ministry of Health, meaning each district health board has to negotiate to provide what should be a national service. The disparity this creates between regions means many children are missing out.

"Health Minister Annette King is passing the buck to health boards, while boards say that, being a national service, it is not their problem. It is five years since the last review instigated by Bill English who gave immediate funding for a national paediatric oncology contract. Paediatric neurology should have followed.

"This Government has failed to act on the recommendations of the Paediatric Specialist Services Review 1998 for a national neurology service for children.

"Coupled with this unworkable system is a shortage of paediatric neurologists. When one of these specialists retires soon there will be two left to cover the country when there should be eight. They are already suffering burn out.

"After four years in Government the Minister can't keep blaming National. She needs to show some leadership and change the system so that children get the well-resourced health services they need," Dr Scott said.

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