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More families benefiting from free GP visits

Media Statement – Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more families are getting the care they need for their children as a result of free GP visits for under 13s.

“We want to ensure young Kiwis get the best possible start in life. Removing the cost barrier of doctor visits and prescription charges is having a really positive impact on many families,” says Dr Coleman.

“New data shows that in the 12 months since the policy was introduced, children under 13 have visited their enrolled GP 16.6 per cent more compared to the same period the previous year.

“The data shows that more Maori and Pacific children are being seen by their enrolled GP. There was a 17.1 per cent increase in visits for Maori children and a 13.5 per cent increase in visits for Pacific children.

“The number of prescriptions dispensed increased by 23.9 per cent, showing that the removal of cost has improved access to medicines.

“There has also been an encouraging decrease of 1,600 less serious presentations to hospital emergency departments in the year to July 2016 – that’s a drop of 4.7 per cent.”

On 1 July 2015, all New Zealand children aged under 13 became eligible to access free visits with their enrolled general practice and after-hours services, as well as free prescriptions.

Over 99 per cent of general practices now offer free GP visits for children under 13. More than 780,000 children under 13 are benefiting from free GP visits during business hours and from free prescriptions.

As at 1 July 2016, only seven general practices out of 1,013 have chosen not to provide free GP visits for their enrolled children under 13. The majority of these practices are in the Auckland region.

In Budget 2014 the Government committed $90 million over three years to extend free GP visits and prescriptions to children under 13.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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