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Illness Not A Nine-To-Five Issue

Illness Not A Nine-To-Five Issue

Tuesday 21 Sep 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

Overflowing Accident & Emergency Departments, and closing after-hours services, highlights the failure of Labour's PHO system to deliver better access to health services around the country, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Many PHOs claim they are not adequately funded to deliver 24/7 cover. Labour appears to have forgotten that people fall ill at night, as well as during the day," Mrs Roy said.

"I am hearing more and more stories of patients belonging to PHOs that no longer provide after-hours care, or access to after-hours services. Patients have no choice but to use hospital A&E services.

"The clock has been turned back to the times when there were few after-hours clinics. Then, doctors were expected to be on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week - putting them under extreme pressure and in an impossible working situation. The Government surely doesn't want to go back to those days but its funding is an indication that is exactly what it expects.

"Many A&E Departments are now advertising on the radio and in local newspapers - telling patients to visit their family doctor first - in an attempt to decrease the numbers going directly to hospitals for free health care.

"Similar previous attempts to lighten A&E loads have often been counterproductive - those with minor ailments, but seeking free care continue to go to A&E, while many of those seriously ill and in need of specialists care go instead to their family GP.

"When fee-paying services must compete with free services, the situation is totally predictable. PHOs have delivered more expensive healthcare for many, and reduced access to after-hours care in many areas of New Zealand.

"PHOs are an expensive, ill thought out experiment that is failing many Kiwis - especially in the dead of the night when an emergency arises. It may be inconvenient for Annette King that patients get sick at night - the Health Ministry works nine-to-five, and her new PHO system seems to have developed the same work ethic," Mrs Roy said.


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