South Auckland healthcare providers say a $188m Budget boost for community healthcare and GPs will help to address the demand for their services.
But while the new support was welcome, it was described as only a start.
Health Minister Andrew Little said the package was designed to take pressure off the country’s hospitals, and included a $102m boost for community healthcare.
He said it would help to identify and treat conditions earlier to prevent them becoming bigger problems that required hospital treatment.
The Government also committed a further $86m over the next four years for GPs in high-needs areas, to allow them to offer improved opening hours and more appointments.
Papakura Marae Health Clinic GP Dr Matire Harwood, said the last two years had been a challenging time for primary healthcare providers.
She has been working tirelessly on the front line of the public health response to Covid-19 in South Auckland.
“We are struggling out here in GP land, we don’t have the workforce we need, we’ve got people leaving the health sector every day and we’ve got a lot of people suffering from burnout,” she said.
“We stepped up over the last two years and have done a lot of work to keep people alive and out of hospital. So the Government needs to back that up.”
Harwood said the $188m in the Budget for community healthcare and GPs wasn’t a lot, but she said it was a step in the right direction and, coupled with a slight increase in the Māori health budget, it’s positive.
“But it’s only a start,” Harwood said.
Budget 2022 also includes $188.1 million over four years for the Māori Health Authority, which contains funding for the direct commissioning of services. But Harwood said it’s important the funding for the new agency and the overall health reforms made its way to frontline services.
Turuki Healthcare CEO Te Puea Winiata said the funding for community healthcare and GPs was needed.
She said Covid-19 had uncovered a higher level of need for social and healthcare services in areas like South Auckland.
“And as Māori providers we’ve been working hard to address that,” Winiata said.
She said the funding boost was appreciated.
“While it’s not a lot, I think it’s recognition of the work we’ve been doing.”
Papakura GP Primla Khar said there had been a noticeable increase in demand for health services over the last two years on the back of Covid-19.
She said increased support for GPs and community healthcare was important.
“Every penny is needed and if there’s some extra funding, great,” she said.
But she said it’s important that the boost for community healthcare and GPs made its way to the doctors and patients at a grassroots level, and wasn’t lost to needless bureaucracy.
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