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Launch of Partnership Health PHO

Hon Annette King: Launch of Partnership Health PHO

Date Fri, 2 Apr 2004

Launch of Partnership Health PHO

Health Minister Annette King today launched Partnership Health Canterbury Te Kei o Te Waka, the largest PHO in New Zealand covering more than 330,000 people.

I am delighted to have been asked to share this landmark day in primary health care with you, and I thank my old friend and former colleague Dame Ann Hercus not only for her comments, but for her continuing contributions to her fellow New Zealanders.

It is a landmark day in a number of ways in terms of implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy, particularly in Canterbury.

Primary Health Organisations offer the key to successful implementation of the strategy, which in turn offers us our best opportunity to improve the health of all New Zealanders. PHOs are the cornerstone of our new coordinated population approach to delivering primary health care in a fair and equitable way.

Nothing that has happened during my tenure as Health Minister has encouraged or excited me more than the remarkable momentum that the PHO movement has developed since the first two PHOs started in July 2002.

Now today that momentum becomes even more pronounced, and what better place to celebrate this fact than at the launch of Partnership Health Canterbury Te Kei o Te Waka, the largest PHO in New Zealand covering more than 330,000 people. Congratulations to everyone involved on a magnificent achievement.

I am well aware that an important reason we are able to celebrate this event is because of the tremendous commitment, willingness and determination from many people and organisations in your community. Many of you have given your time voluntarily to ensure this PHO becomes reality.

Before I talk more about Partnership Health, I must mention other landmarks that are occurring today.

· Partnership Health is one of 10 new PHOs that begin operating today, bringing the total number to 68. The 10 new organisations include the very first in Southland, Takitimu Health.

· The new PHOs bring the total number of New Zealanders enrolled in PHOs to more than three million. Three in every four New Zealanders now belong to a PHO, and almost one in three New Zealanders now have access to more affordable primary health care.

· Yet another important landmark is that from today all those almost one in three New Zealanders --- those enrolled in Access-funded PHOs and all under 18-year-olds enrolled in all PHOs --- will now be able to access prescribed medicines for no more than $3 a prescription item. >From July 1, all New Zealanders aged 65 and over enrolled in all PHOs will also be entitled to the $3 prescription fee.

· The final landmark today is a new service called Care Plus, to be run through a number of PHOs for people with chronic diseases and other individuals with high health needs. PHOs intending to roll Care Plus out are now being funded to ensure they are ready to deliver the care fully on 1 July, and it is expected that when fully operating Care Plus will provide extra help to about one in 20 New Zealanders.

I am sure you all agree, therefore, that this is an important day in primary health care in New Zealand, and that you share my belief that we are now well down the track of a quiet but effective revolution in the way we look after the health of New Zealanders.

I say quiet for a particular reason. I have never been quiet about the merits of PHOs, but there has been criticism from some groups that not enough has been done to explain what PHOs are all about.

A national publicity campaign is now underway --- and you may have noticed the first advertisements --- and I am quite happy that we are beginning it at the right time, now that PHOs are established right up and down the country.

I doubt if I have to do much to explain to this group what PHOs are all about, because I know that you are all as excited as I am at the potential benefits Partnership Health will provide for people in Canterbury.

It gives me special pleasure to be here today because I have had a long involvement with a number of the constituent organisations in this new PHO, in particular Pegasus Health. Organisations like Pegasus have provided one of the models that have influenced our vision for primary health care. PHOs, in placing greater emphasis on services that meet population needs, are building on existing best practice such as that already demonstrated by the leading providers that will make up this PHO.

An effective relationship between District Health Boards and PHOs is fundamental if a PHO wants to become a "leading example" in terms of providing health care, and in this respect I also want to acknowledge the level of community involvement in the steering group for this PHO, and particularly the overall contribution of Dame Ann as chair. I am sure that Partnership Health will be an organisation that is very good at reaching out to its community.

I strongly support your guiding principles, which include:

· Striving to implement the vision and key directions of the Primary Health Care Strategy within the resources available;

· Delivering the best possible coordinated primary health care services, both on an individual and a population basis, to your communities;

· Working to reduce inequalities in primary health care and delivery; · Setting realistic, achievable goals and striving to surpass them;

· And being accountable for what you do

All these principles will be critical to your success.

PHOs can reach out and improve access to primary health care by helping to make sure that those who need care, can receive care; by ensuring people know what services are available and how to use them; by putting services where patients are; and by ensuring services are right for people, that visiting the doctor is not overwhelming, and that people develop a clear understanding of how they can look after their own health.

I know much good work has already been done at Partnership Health in many of these respects. You have drawn together a diverse range of providers to address the needs of your enrolled population. In fact, what makes this PHO so innovative is its strong mix of community organisations. As I said earlier, today is a landmark day for primary health care, providing another strong thrust to the powerful momentum the PHO movement has already developed.

That momentum will receive another boost on July 1 when all New Zealanders aged 65 and over enrolled in all PHOs will become entitled to more affordable primary health care. This will represent another $48 million in Government funding for primary health care.

Partnership Health Canterbury can feel proud to not only be part of the PHO movement, but to have become the largest PHO in New Zealand.

Congratulations again to everyone who has played a role in bringing this PHO into being, and thank you very much for asking me to be part of this special occasion.

ENDS

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