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Minister admits limited progress in healthcare

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

06 December 2006

Minister admits limited progress in healthcare

Labour's Primary Health Care Strategy is in desperate need of re-focusing, after the Minister of Health admitted little progress in meeting many key objectives, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall. In Parliament today, Mr Ryall questioned the Health Minister, Pete Hodgson on his mid-year report to Cabinet on the achievements of the PHCS.

"Despite spending $1.2 billion on the strategy, Mr Hodgson has been forced to admit very little progress has been made on the objectives to improve the quality of primary health care in New Zealand.

"Labour's PHCS offered the promise of multi-disciplinary teams, working proactively to improve overall quality and co-ordination, with particular focus on chronic diseases. But it has failed to deliver. "The PHCS foresaw the primary health care team expanding to a wider range of health professionals. Yet the latest Commonwealth Fund survey of primary care physicians across seven countries, finds New Zealand general practice second to bottom for using multi-disciplinary teams. And Mr Hodgson has admitted that any progress is limited to 'a small number of PHOs'.

"The strategy envisaged a wider range of services provided in a primary care setting, such as maternity, hospital follow-ups and well-child. Yet Mr Hodgson has told Cabinet, co-ordination between primary care and hospitals is still very weak.

"Mr Hodgson warned Cabinet of the rising risk of a further fragmented health system, with so many local areas doing their own thing in information technology. He said the current performance 'lags behind the policy direction'.

"The Primary Health Care Strategy is in desperate need of re-focusing.

"Incentives are needed to encourage multi-disciplinary teams and more effective management of chronic conditions. These new models of care might include a greater role for practice nurses and pharmacists, practices sharing expertise, and improved information flows with secondary care and other providers."


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