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Briefing Papers Wrong -- NZMA

Ministry of Health briefing papers which suggest that GPs make claims to ACC for treating abuse, but don't report the abuse, are wrong, the New Zealand Medical Association says.

The papers, released yesterday, say: "The Ministry has recently been informed by CYF (Child, Youth and Family Service) that there are significant numbers of children for whom GPs make claims to ACC for the treatment of abuse, yet these same children have not been reported to CYF by GPs."

In fact, GPs make claims to ACC for the treatment of injuries, not abuse. The NZMA has clarified the issue with the Ministry of Health, CYF and ACC, and has established that the report is inaccurate. There is no evidence that GPs are making claims in respect of abuse to ACC, but not passing this information to CYF.

"The implication that GPs are somehow 'cashing in' on abused children is outrageous," said NZMA Chairman Dr Pippa MacKay. "The Ministry must get it right on this sensitive and important issue.

"We need to correct this inaccurate statement and then put it behind us and focus on the real issue, which is developing effective and workable solutions to keep our children safe and protect those who are at risk.

"Any doctor who suspects a child has been injured by abuse can and should report that child to the appropriate authorities. We are urging doctors to take this issue very seriously, and to report suspected cases."

Dr MacKay said the solutions were not simple. Abusive families often "shop around", visiting many different GPs and attending Accident and Medical clinics, or the Emergency Department of public hospitals. It can be difficult for any one doctor to know a child's full history.

"Systems must be put in place so doctors can be confident that if they report abuse, the outcome will be effective for the child. If this does not happen, it may result in some families no longer seeking health care for their children, or other unfortunate results," Dr MacKay concluded.


Dr Pippa MacKay (03) 351 6198 (wk) (025) 484 718 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager (04) 472 4741 (wk) (025) 284 1081 (mobile)

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