A move in Hawke’s Bay towards free doctor visits for more than half the region’s teenagers, has been welcomed by Labour’s Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck.
“It’s a bold responsibility for the Hawke’s Bay DHB to recommend it invest in zero fee subsidies for 13 to 17 year olds – starting with those living in the region’s most deprived areas.
“I hope this pilot gets the go ahead as it could make a real difference for many of our youth who are telling us they cost and access are stopping teenagers going to the doctor,” she said
“It also sends a very strong message, that there are far better ways to invest in improving health outcomes and reducing inequality, than wasting time and resources on meaningless health targets set by the National Government,” she said.
She commended Hawke’s Bay teenagers for engaging in feedback surveys with local health professionals about what they saw as the greatest barriers to going to a doctor – cost and transport.
“Teenagers are talking and telling us what’s wrong with the system.
“Cost and access to a doctor - are once again showing the widening inequality gap that is becoming a huge social, health and economic challenge for our youth in our region.
“This investment to provide zero fees for 13 to 17 year olds living in our most impoverished areas across Hawke’s Bay, based on an average two visits a year, could well break down a real barrier to encouraging younger people to take better care of their health.
“While our doctors can’t be expected to sort out the transport problems, greater access to primary health care must also looked at with options like investing in mobile clinics.”
Ms Lorck said she had great confidence that local doctors will take on board the other feedback from teenagers around the approach to consultations to better engage with youth.
“When a young person can develop a good relationship with their doctor and nurse it can make a real difference in helping them take responsibility for their health and wellbeing and sets them up for adult life.
“Targeting those most in need is the right place to start and if this regional pilot is successful, it would be good to see if it could be expanded to all teenagers,” she said.
- 53% of Hawke’s Bay 13-17 year olds live in quintile 4 & 5 areas and 85% of the total Māori and Pacific 13-17 year olds are enrolled in only 12 GP practices.
- 76% of Māori and Pacific 13-17 year olds living in Hastings are enrolled in only three general practices 73% of Māori and Pacific 13-17 year olds living in Napier are enrolled in only three general practices
- Consultation fees for 13 to 17 year olds range from $0 to $39, depending where they live. Where After Hours services are in place, the charges are usually approximately $5 more expensive per visit.