All 27 primary health care practices in Nelson and Tasman have signed contracts to provide free GP visits for under 13s, Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith announced today during a visit to Nelson by Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.
“This is great news for Nelson families in that all 9,000 children between the ages of six and 12 in Nelson and Tasman are now eligible for free doctors’ visits. This is a tribute to both our primary practices, our primary healthcare organisation and the district health board,” Dr Smith says.
The Ministers today visited visit one of Nelson’s 26 GP practices at Health @132.
“Healthcare is one of the most important but complex public services provided by the Government in Nelson, and we need to be constantly listening to healthcare workers at the coal face to ensure our policies support their work,” Dr Smith says. “Dr Coleman visited our Nelson Hospital within weeks of his appointment as Minister and today’s visit to this GP practice is to recognise the equally important role of primary healthcare,” Dr Smith says.
“This is an important initiative from the Government to give children the best possible start in life and ensure they are able to go to the doctor without their parents worrying about the cost. This change is also complemented by there no longer being a $5 co-payment for prescriptions for children under 13,” Dr Coleman says.
Free doctors’ visits and prescriptions were available for Nelson and Tasman’s 6,600 children under six prior to the new policy. The total number of children now eligible is 15,600. The practices that have signed up to new contracts include 26 private practices as well as the DHB service in Murchison. The free under-13’s policy also applies to the After Hours Medical and Injury Centre on Waimea Road.
“This free under-13’s policy is part of our agenda to help families while still ensuring we get the Government’s books back in the black. Our ambition is to grow the economy and gradually improve the quality of public services like free health care for children,” Dr Smith says.
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