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Budget Boost Needs To Find Its Way To Primary Care Providers

General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) hopes today’s record and much-needed investment in Aotearoa’s health system will be the start of rebalancing future spending towards primary and community care.

GPNZ Chair and Karori GP, Dr Jeff Lowe said: ‘Today’s Budget feels like a reset, with much-needed spending going into medicines, mental health and dealing with DHB debt, and very clear steps towards addressing Aotearoa’s unacceptable and persisent health inequities.

‘That spending boost is vital to get some equilibrium into the system and make it sustainable, and to begin to see tangible improvements in access and outcomes for Māori. But we are really only starting to shift the dial towards a system that is about wellbeing rather than fixing people when they get sick.

‘As always the devil is in the detail, and what we hope to see behind those high level appropriations is funding going into the essential care that communities need every day from general practice and other primary care providers.’

Dr Lowe said that investment in the development of comprehensive care teams, as well as in proven local initiatives such as the Piki youth mental health scheme and diabetes prevention and treatment programme in South Auckland, give a positive signal of where funding should be targeted.

He added:” But general practice is overwhelmed before we even get into winter and we have a critical workforce shortage, so we need to see that money flowing now to ensure the sustainability of services.

‘We know that investment in primary care that avoids downstream ill health is not only better for people and whānau but better for the economy. The health reforms are quite rightly based on the premise of strengthening primary care, and we have a very long way to go to get there.’

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