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King: Launch new Tamaki Healthcare PHO

Thu, 2 Dec 2004

Launch new Tamaki Healthcare PHO-White Cross after hours service

Venue: White Cross Otahuhu After-Hours Clinic, Otahuhu, Auckland.

Health Minister Annette King congratulated Tamaki HealthCare Charitable Trust and the White Cross Group on their new arrangement for after hours care, saying it was great to see a local and innovative solution being developed.

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Primary Health Organisations are little more than two years old, but there have already been many success stories associated with them, often occurring as a result of collaboration between health care providers.

Tonight we are celebrating a collaboration with a difference, a partnership between a Primary Health Organisation and an after hours provider that I believe will provide great benefit for the high needs population it covers.

Warm congratulations to Tamaki HealthCare Charitable Trust and to the White Cross Group on your new arrangement for after hours care. After hours care is an issue causing some concern in various parts of New Zealand, so it is excellent news, as far as I am concerned, to see a local and innovative solution being developed here. I am sure the solution would not have come about without the leadership of key individuals. Special thanks are due to Tamaki HealthCare PHO chief executive Dr Guy Naden, chair Rob Cooper and other members of the PHO board, and to White Cross general manager Dr Alistair Sullivan, chief executive Andrew Gill, chair Stu Chapman and clinical director Dr Robert Kofoed. It takes people with vision and leadership to make new partnerships work, and I thank all of you for your commitment.

Under the arrangements you have developed together, people enrolled with Tamaki HealthCare will pay $10 less for after hours service at White Cross Clinics than they previously did, and all children under six years enrolled with Tamaki HealthCare will receive free health services 24/7, 365 days a year, with after-hours access to any of the 10 White Cross Accident and Medical clinics.

That will provide great reassurance and comfort for families enrolled with Tamaki HealthCare.

The PHO's patients can access low cost comprehensive primary health care during the day from practices belonging to Tamaki HealthCare, and if they need urgent primary health care during the evenings or late at night they can access care from any of the 10 White Cross Clinics open into the evenings, with two of them open throughout the night on a 24/7 basis.

That sort of improved service is exactly what is envisaged in the Primary Health Care Strategy.

It is a win/win for all parties, particularly patients, of course. But Tamaki HealthCare PHO also benefits from reduced Fee For Service deductions, or "claw backs", as White Cross will not claim for patients enrolled with Tamaki Healthcare. And White Cross benefits from receiving some primary health care funding from the PHO to support after hours provision, which we all know is expensive to provide.

As I said earlier, Accident and Medical Clinics in various parts of New Zealand are concerned about where or how they "fit in" in the new PHO environment.

Improved access to PHO practices through extended opening hours has led to decreased attendances at A&M clinics. While this is positive in terms of the continuity of care that people experience, it can have flow-on consequences for the after hours provider.

That's why I am pleased by a partnership like this that benefits both a PHO and an A&M provider group, and, most importantly, many families enrolled with Tamaki HealthCare who experience higher health needs.

White Cross is pointing to one way where A&Ms can play a very constructive part improving access to primary health care services. While White Cross A&M clinics focus on providing episodic care to patients with accidents and urgent medical care who attend their service, they are also strengthening continuity of care by referring patients back to Tamaki HealthCare PHO practices for follow up care.

I am also very pleased that nurses will play an important role in providing a telephone triage service through White Cross as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

Such multidisciplinary teams, that recognise the skills and contributions of everyone involved, are almost a pre-requisite to ensuring that the Government's new emphasis on, and funding for, primary health care is as successful as it can be.

It certainly didn't surprise me that Tamaki HealthCare should be a partner in this innovative arrangement, because the PHO has an excellent track record of working with its GP practices and with Hapai Te Hauora and the Rongoa Maori Health service to improve the health of Maori and other families who have chosen to enrol with it.

Tamaki HealthCare is particularly interested in developing ways in which services currently delivered in acute settings in hospitals can be more efficiently delivered in local communities. I certainly applaud that, and I also want to thank the PHO for the wonderful work you are doing right now in delivering Meningococcal B vaccinations to children and young people in Otara, Otahuhu, Glen Innes and Panmure.

As I said, this new after hours care arrangement is another step toward ensuring that the extra hundreds of millions of dollars the Government is spending on primary health care results in increased access to medical services and reduced costs for doctor's visits.

It is essential to ensure good access to affordable after hours primary health care services in the PHO environment, and that is why a joint District Health Board and Ministry of Health working party has been set up to look into after hours issues.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Alistair and Robert from White Cross for both being members of this Working Party. I am sure you will keep other members of the Working Party well informed of this initiative so that its relevance to other parts of New Zealand can be assessed.

Thank you again for inviting me to join you today to launch this creative local solution to providing effective and affordable after hours care. I certainly hope it is the success it deserves to be.

ENDS

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