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Manawatu PHO completes nationwide coverage

1 January 2005 Media Statement

Manawatu PHO completes nationwide coverage

The formation today of a large Primary Health Organisation in Manawatu means all major centres in New Zealand are now covered by the new organisations, says Health Minister Annette King.

Ms King says Manawatu PHO will “look after another 80,000 New Zealanders who become part of the biggest change in primary health care in more than half a century”. The PHO is the fourth in the MidCentral District Health Board region, and covers the population of Palmerston North. MidCentral already has three PHOs serving Tararua, Otaki and Horowhenua. Manawatu PHO comprises 25 member general practices and all but five of the 61 general practitioners working in Palmerston North, Feilding and Manawatu. Maori health provider Whakapai Hauora is expected to join Manawatu PHO in April.

There are now 78 PHOs nationally looking after the primary health needs of about 3.8 million New Zealanders, Ms King says. “I am particularly pleased MidCentral is now well covered. Palmerston North was the only major area not covered by a PHO. People in Palmerston North will benefit from more affordable doctors' fees for the young and the elderly and increased emphasis on health promotion.”

Ms King says the Government is committed to providing affordable and accessible primary health care for all New Zealanders. “Everyone in PHOs will be entitled to cheaper doctors’ visits and cheaper charges on most prescription items by July 2007, up to five years earlier than I envisaged when we began implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy with the first two PHOs in July 2002. By the 2007-08 financial year the Government will have committed $1.7 billion in total in new money over six years from 2002-03 to implement the strategy.

“Already we are providing subsidies that mean PHO patients aged under 18 and 65 and over are paying less in doctors’ fees and for most prescription charges. The benefits will reach 18 to 24 year-olds in July this year (2005), 45 to 64-year-olds in July 2006, and 25 to 44-year-olds in July 2007.”

Ms King says the Government believes that the significant extra funding will encourage primary health care providers to show the lead in providing services to those who may have been missing out in the past, in addressing health priority areas, such as cancer and diabetes, in co-ordinating care for patients, and in collecting vital health data.

“As well as PHOs being the vehicle for more affordable primary health care, they are also exploring innovative ways to keep people healthy and out of hospital. The only way we will cope with the predicted burden of chronic illness, such as growing levels of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and obesity, is by strengthening prevention, early management and health promotion."

ENDS

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