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Hodgson should tell truth on primary care strategy

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

15 November 2006

Hodgson should tell truth about primary care strategy

Health Minister Pete Hodgson’s praise for a Commonwealth Fund survey today stands in stark contrast to his own advice to Cabinet criticising the slow progress of the Government’s primary health care strategy, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

“Mr Hodgson should tell the full story of the Commonwealth Fund survey, and actually focus on important issues for the future of primary care. The survey is about process, not outcomes.

“New Zealand is falling behind in the areas that the Government’s primary health care strategy was supposed to fix.

“The survey shows that New Zealand practices, compared to those in other countries, feel they are less well prepared to provide optimum care for patients with multiple chronic diseases and mental health problems.

“Patients will also laugh at Mr Hodgson’s claim that New Zealand is top for after-hours care, when problems with after-hours care are occurring throughout the country.

“The survey also showed 85% of New Zealand doctors reported long waiting times for elective surgery or hospital care – by far the worst view of any of the seven countries surveyed.

“The report says that ‘based on doctors reports, long waits for elective surgery appear to be the norm in New Zealand’.

“Mr Hodgson should admit that the Government’s primary health care strategy has failed to meet its own goals in a number of key areas.”

The Minister told Cabinet in April that ‘progress toward the PHCS’s aim of improved coordination across service areas has so far been limited… coordination between primary care and hospital[s] is still weak…progress towards…a well developed multidisciplinary workforce is so far limited to a small number of PHOs’.

“Mr Hodgson spends too much time on peripheral issues. He should focus more on the pressing issue of improving quality and patient outcomes,” says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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