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Time To Base Healthcare On Need, Not Race

Time To Base Healthcare On Need, Not Race

Wednesday 7 Apr 2004 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

If, as the Government claims, healthcare is delivered based on need - not race - what will Labour now do to address figures showing that the seriously mentally ill die earlier than other New Zealanders, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy asked today.

"A Mental Health Commission report released today has revealed that, allowing for suicide, males suffering severe mental illness live on average 14 years less than other New Zealanders - women suffering severe mental illness live six years less," Mrs Roy said.

"One of objectives of the Government's National Health Strategy is to `improve the health status of people with severe mental illness'. But these figures - backed by previous international studies - indicate that the physical health needs of the seriously mentally ill are simply not being met.

"Further, the rapidly increasing incidence of dual diagnosis - those suffering both mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction - will see the life expectancy gap between the seriously mentally ill and other New Zealanders grow even wider.

"Community care is clearly failing the mentally ill. Labour's Primary Health Organisation practices receive a 20 percent loading in areas with a predominantly Maori population - ostensibly because Maori, on average, live eight to nine years less than non-Maori. Yet the severely mentally ill have an even lower life expectancy.

"Labour claims that health services and funding are delivered based on need. Health Minister Annette King must address these new figures, and prove that this truly is the case - or does the Government's flagship `healthcare based on need' not extend to the mentally ill?" Mrs Roy said.


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