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Primary health reforms have not gone far enough

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health


21 July 2006 Media Statement

Primary health reforms have not gone far enough

Despite the success of making primary health care more affordable for families, the real work to reform New Zealand's primary health system has only just begun, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

In his first major speech on primary health care – and the second in his series of priority speeches – Pete Hodgson said that low fees were only the beginning of the primary health reforms and released a five year work programme for the accelerated implementation of the Primary Health Care Strategy (PHCS).

"The Labour-led government is committed to building a primary health system that works for all families," Pete Hodgson said. "We now have 4 million New Zealanders in PHOs and from 1 July next year they will all have access to low cost doctor's visits and prescription drugs.

"But low fees are just the beginning. What we've yet to achieve is a real population health approach; we've yet to get ahead of the curve on chronic diseases; and many New Zealanders still do not have the information or awareness needed to take personal responsibility for improving their health and the health of their families.

"Those are the goals of the Primary Health Care Strategy that will dramatically improve the health of New Zealanders and those are the goals that we need to make faster progress on."

Pete Hodgson announced in May that accelerated implementation of the PHCS was one of his top priorities for the 2006/07 financial year. In his speech today he outlined 6 areas that have not yet been adequately addressed:

- Action on chronic disease management and prevention

- Involvement of medical centres and PHOs in health promotion

- Awareness that public investment in PHOs is not tied to how many times patients get seen by a doctor

- Adequate information to encourage personal responsibility for health

- Take up of screening programmes; improved access to screening and check ups

- Implementation of a true 'population health focus' of the primary care sector – including DHBs and PHOs

The Primary Health Care Strategy Implementation Work Programme 2006-2010 is available at www.moh.govt.nz

ENDS

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