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Working Group Must Do More Than Just Talk

Working Group Must Do More Than Just Talk

Friday 8 Oct 2004
Heather Roy
Press Releases – Health

Yet more money is having to be poured into Primary Healthcare to cope with problems that the Labour Government didn't anticipate when launching its flagship Primary Health Organisation programme, ACT New Zealand health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"After-hours care has suffered since PHOs were established, with many patients around the country unable to access anything other than Accident & Emergency department care at their local hospital," Mrs Roy said.

"It is time that Health Minister Annette King took responsibility for setting up a primary health system that has seen the closing of some after-hours services, and put others under intense pressure. The working group announced today is all very well, so long as it actually does something - rather than simply talking around the issue.

"Many PHOs claim they are not adequately funded to deliver 24/7 healthcare. Labour has forgotten that people fall sick at night as well as during the day. This is why the clock has been turned back to the days when there were few after-hours clinics.

"Then, doctors were expected to be on-call 24/7 - putting them under extreme pressure and in an impossible working situation.

"Many A&E departments are now advertising - telling patients to visit their doctor first - in a bid to lower the numbers going to hospitals for free health care. But, when fee-paying services must compete with free services, the situation will not change.

"PHOs have delivered more expensive healthcare for many, and reduced access to after-hours care in many areas of New Zealand.

"At least the Health Ministry - unlike Ms King - is acknowledging that a problem exists. But talk is cheap. The real test will be to see whether this action group will produce any solution to the problem at all," Mrs Roy said.


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