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Vulnerable Paying Price For Ryall’s Indifference

Vulnerable Paying Price For Ryall’s Indifference

The Government is pushing more and more health costs on to patients with little or no regard for the impact on vulnerable Kiwis, says Annette King, Labour’s Health spokesperson.

After hours clinics in parts of Auckland are charging $25 for young children to see a doctor – reportedly because GPs did not want their charges undercut.

“Just two months ago Health Minister Tony Ryall was crowing that more under six year olds ‘than ever’ were getting free GP and after-hours health care.

“He is surely the only one who believes his own publicity.

“The free after-hours scheme is voluntary - GPs can’t be forced to sign up to it – but it is disgraceful to charge parents of young children so much for urgent medical attention.

“Again, it is those who can least afford it who get hit the hardest, with the result that some children are likely to miss out on the care they need.

“Another example is the miserable amount of Budget funding for ‘very low cost access’ providers who care for patients with the highest needs.

“One practice with more than 5,000 patients (97% of whom are high needs) received an increase of just $7,200 per year.  And that’s despite VLCA practices having had their fees at the same level since 2008/09.

“This National Government’s priorities are all wrong. In last week’s Budget it gave DHBs $70 million less funding than last year. It is desperate to reduce public health services and costs and doesn’t care if it is patients who are left to pick up the bill.

“Sadly that means our most vulnerable – the elderly, the struggling families with sick kids – are likely to stop seeking medical attention when they really need it.”

ENDS

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