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Liam Butler speaks to Barbara Stewart

Liam Butler speaks to Barbara Stewart, NZ first MP, Health Spokesperson and Associate spokesperson for Senior Citizens

01 April 2014

Liam Butler

Barbara, what is a good example of how NZ First is improving the health and well being of older people in a fiscally prudent manner?

A good example of our work is the fact that three free doctor's visits for SuperGold Cardholders is on the horizon

The good news is that there will be no extra cost for the health system if just one per cent of seniors using these visits are able to stay out of hospital. That's right. By early diagnosis and treatment by the doctor further care in hospital can be avoided.

The entitlement for three free visits is contained in New Zealand First's private member's bill, the SuperGold Health Check Bill, which is now awaiting passage through Parliament.

All political parties must see the sense in voting for this legislation as free visits will benefit individuals, their families and the economy.

The free visits will make a huge contribution as a preventive healthcare measure.

If SuperGold Cardholders get to a doctor regularly they may not need more intensive care as any illness or injury will be picked up and treated early.

We all know that hospital stays are costly to the New Zealand economically and to the patient and their families. The average stay costs $10,000.

By reducing the number of elderly needing a stay in hospital there are emotional, social and financial benefits. Hospital care over an extended time and repeated stays can result in a loss of confidence for the patient. This may be the catalyst that pushes them into long term care. A free visit to the doctor may help them stay in their own home longer.

The bill is expected to have its first reading in Parliament soon.

Three free visits to the doctor and an early diagnosis and treatment will benefit all seniors, their family and the health system.

Biography of Barbara Stewart NZ First MP

Barbara initially entered Parliament as a New Zealand First list member in 2002, staying until 2008 when the 5% threshold was not reached by New Zealand First. She re-entered Parliament in 2011.

In the three years New Zealand First was out of Parliament, she returned to her long time passion of education.

Barbara is the Party spokesperson for Health, Tourism and Associate Spokesperson for Senior Citizens. Being a member of the Health Select Committee has given her an understanding of the challenges involved in running a complex public health system that is subject to ever-increasing demands.

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