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11.1 Million Subsidised GP appointments a year

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

2 July 2008

11.1 Million Subsidised GP appointments a year.

July marks the sixth anniversary of Primary Health Organisations in New Zealand, and over four million New Zealanders are benefiting.

Latest Ministry of Health figures show that at the end of 2007 there were 11.1 million subsidised General Practitioner appointments in New Zealand.

“That’s a phenomenal number of people accessing much needed health services,” Minister of Health David Cunliffe said.

Mr Cunliffe said Primary Health Organisations were established to provide comprehensive, affordable health care and that’s what they are doing.

“Our goal was to change the way people used primary health services, we wanted them focus on using services to stay well rather than wait until they were sick.”

“We know the average cost of seeing a GP is now $26 nationwide for a consultation and for a million Kiwi’s they pay no more than $15.50.”

“Low cost affordable access could not have been delivered under the catastrophic experiment of market driven healthcare that characterised the 1990’s”

A recent Ministry of Health survey confirmed just 1.7 percent of people viewed cost as a barrier to accessing GP services.

Last year Pharmac announced that the number of subsidised prescriptions had reached an all time high of nearly 32 million an 11.8 percent increase on the previous year.

“This year’s budget further extended low cost $3 prescriptions to hospital prescriptions.”

Mr Cunliffe said the next steps in the Primary Health Care Strategy are to focus increasingly on preventative health services and management of long-term health conditions.

“We have already come along way, but there is still more that can be done.”

Media contact: Vikki Carter 021 226 9918 or 04 471 9918

Primary Health Organisations.

How many people belong to a Primary Health Organisation?

As at 1 April 2008, there were 4,010,942 PHO enrollees around New Zealand, out of an estimated 4.2 million total residents.

How many people are enrolled in very low cost access PHOs?

27 percent or around one million New Zealanders are enrolled in very low cost access schemes and pay no more than $15.50.

What is the average cost of visiting a GP for those not in a very low cost access scheme?

The average cost in New Zealand for visiting a GP is $26

Are children benefiting from the free under-sixes scheme?

Yes, 74 percent of children under the age of six enrolled in PHO’s receive free under-six consultations.

What is a PHO?

PHOs are the local structures for delivering and co-ordinating primary health care services. PHOs bring together doctors, nurses and other health professionals (such as Maori health workers, health promotion workers, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists and midwives) in the community to serve the needs of their enrolled populations.

PHOs vary widely in size and structure and are not-for-profit. The first PHOs were established in July 2002 and there are now 81 PHOs around the country. DHBs worked with local communities and provider organisations to establish PHOs in their regions.

What are the benefits of belonging to a PHO?

Children under six years old are eligible for reduced cost doctor visits and free prescription medicines regardless of their doctor belonging to a PHO or not.

PHOs bring together a wide range of health professionals including doctors, nurses, Maori health workers, health promotion workers, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists and midwives in the community to serve the needs of their enrolled populations.

If you are enrolled in a PHO you are eligible for reduced cost doctors visits, and pay only $3 per prescription medicine (as long as the medicine is fully subsidised and as long as the prescription is from your usual PHO doctor).

How do you enrol?

Enrolment in a PHO is voluntary, but people are encouraged to join a PHO in order to gain the benefits associated with belonging to a PHO, which include cheaper doctors visits and reduced costs on prescription medicines.

Most general practices are now part of a PHO. If you are not enrolled in a PHO, ask your regular doctor if they are part of a PHO.

To enrol, usually you will have to sign a form which the doctor, nurse or medical centre receptionist will give you. The form will usually ask you for your personal details such as name, age, date of birth, address and ethnicity. The information collected at enrolment comes under the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, so the privacy of your information is protected.


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