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Health inequalities set to grow in the South

The Southern Primary Health Organisation’s proposal to give hospital patients with a GP referral priority will further exacerbate growing inequalities in our health system, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson David Clark says.

“It used to be the case that you didn’t have to get out your cheque book to get into hospital. Sadly due to National’s underfunding of health in the South, this reality is changing.

“The proposal to make a visit to the hospital quicker if your can afford a GP visit is contemptuous. Those already up against the system will slide further down the list.

“Waiting times at the Emergency Department have increased with 13 per cent of patients waiting longer than six hours to be seen.

“Health inequalities are growing and further privatisation grows the gap between those who can afford decent health for themselves and their families, and those that can’t.

“Such inequalities cost us all. Time off work for ill-health affects us all in the long run. A less-productive workforce has a cost for the New Zealand economy.

“The proposal will also put increased burden on GP practices as they chase debt from patients who couldn’t afford to pay in the first place.

“The Southern PHO’s proposal is responding to cost-pressures on the local District Health Board caused by a Government that has failed to adequately fund growing demand in the health system.

“The current funding formula hasn’t been reviewed in over a decade and it seems to disadvantage the South.

“A Labour Government would instigate a full formula review”, David Clark says.