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King welcomes int'l primary health care reform

Fri, 29 Oct 2004

King welcomes international primary health care report

Health Minister Annette King, who is attending the Commonwealth Fund's annual meeting in Washington, welcomes the Fund's report showing New Zealand scores highly on speedy access to primary health care and the quality of doctor-patient relationships.


Health Minister Annette King, who is attending the Commonwealth Fund's annual meeting in Washington, is welcoming the Fund's report showing New Zealand scores highly on speedy access to primary health care and the quality of doctor-patient relationships. The Commonwealth Fund's 2004 International Health Policy Survey draws each Commonwealth Fund member country's attention to aspects of their health systems they can be proud of, as well as areas in which they need to do better.

"I'm very pleased that New Zealand scores best of all five countries in the questions around how easy it is to get primary health care. Sixty per cent of 1400 New Zealanders surveyed said they were able to get same day appointments with their GP when they were sick, much higher than 27 per cent in Canada and 33 per cent in the US. The UK recorded 41 per cent and Australia 54 per cent.''

New Zealanders were less likely to encounter long waits of six days or more for an appointment to see their family doctor, scoring a low two per cent compared with 25 per cent in Canada, 19 per cent in the US, 13 per cent in the UK and 7 per cent in Australia.

"Access to weekend and after hours care is also better in New Zealand, with 33 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed reporting difficulty getting after-hours care compared with 63 per cent in the US, 59 per cent in Canada, 54 per cent in Australia and 43 per cent in the UK.

"I am aware that there are currently issues around after hours care in New Zealand, but I am confident these will be worked through, and that New Zealand will retain its high reputation in this area."

Ms King says the survey showed New Zealand's doctor-patient relationships are better than the other countries, taking the top place in questions about whether the doctor "always" listens carefully to them, explains things in a way they can understand (first equal with Australia) and spends enough time with them.

"This Government is committed to building strong public health services, and primary health care is particularly important. The survey shows we're doing well in many areas, but to improve the overall health of all New Zealanders, we have to keep doing better in areas such as reducing the cost of access to health care, particularly for those people on low incomes.

"That is the top priority in implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy. Only two years after the country's first Primary Health Organisations were set up, they now cover 3.7 million people, more than two million of whom benefit from cheaper doctors' visits and reduced charges on most prescription items. By July 2007 all New Zealanders belonging to PHOs, and that will be almost everyone, will be entitled to the benefits of cheaper primary health care. We are investing $1.7 billion over six years in making the Strategy work for all New Zealanders."

The full 2004 International Health Policy Survey can be viewed from October 29 on:


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