Whitecross - Whangarei will only charge $5 to children under 6yrs after hours and weekends

8th September 2009

Manaia Health, the PHO covering the Whangarei district, announces $5 after hours and weekend care for all children under six who are registered with a Manaia PHO Practice – down from $15.

Manaia Health PHO CEO Chris Farrelly says “we are pleased to announce that from Monday 7th of September, all children aged under 6, accessing the Whangarei Whitecross Accident and Medical Clinic after hours and in the weekend will be charged only $5.  This is a substantial decrease from the previous charge of $15”.

“Manaia Health is committed to improving the health of our children, they are one of our top priorities.  We know the $15 charge has been a barrier for some people needing care for their children and as a consequence people have been going to the hospital emergency department or waiting until Monday morning.  Reducing this fee will make a huge difference to children’s health”, Mr Farrelly says.

It is free for all children under 6 during normal business hours at any medical centre within the Whangarei district.

Child Poverty Action Group health spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner says she is thrilled to see Whangarei recognising the importance of reducing the cost of afterhours health services for children.

“It’s clear that reducing costs to access the doctor make a difference to children’s health and reduces hospitalization rates.  With one in five NZ children living in significant poverty, and the recession further exacerbating the situation for low income families, access to the doctor after hours is really hard for many struggling families resulting in delaying or putting off doctors visits for sick children. Children do not get sick in work hours as we all know!  I have too often seen families bring very sick children in on a Monday morning who really needed to be seen in the weekend, but the families held off due to the cost,” says Dr Turner. 

“This is a hugely important and timely intervention.  Congratulations to Whangarei and come on the rest of NZ, this is a vitally important issue for our children” she says.

“It is significant that we are able to announce this just a week after the OECD report Doing Better for Children was released, which showed how badly New Zealand was doing in the wellbeing of its children.  This report is an indictment on our country, ” says Mr Farrelly.

Doing Better for Children is a comprehensive cross-country comparison of children across the wider OECD, and shows New Zealand continues to lag behind in its care of children. The report showed New Zealand spends less than half the OECD average on young children and recommends we should spend considerably more on younger, disadvantaged children. 

“That is exactly what we are doing – committing our funding to improve the health of our most vulnerable and precious population – our children.  We call on the Government to adopt the recommendations in the OECD report.  An investment in our children now is an investment in the future of all of us” he says. 

“We know the single most important determinant of health is income. One in five  of New Zealand children live in significant poverty and these children are three times more likely to be sick than a child growing up in a higher income household. The Government must address these broader economic issues – low income families need more money in their pockets, we are doing what we can in the health sector,” Mr Farrelly says. 

For further comment contact Chris Farrelly 09 4381015 or 021 726098

 Above: Benjamin Brookes from Kamo Primary