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Doctor Visits Will Cost More If Govt Meddles With PHOs - Dyson

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Ruth Dyson. Pic: NZPA
Ruth Dyson. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, June 28 NZPA - The Labour Party says doctor visits will cost more if the Government meddles with primary health organisations (PHOs).

Health Minister Tony Ryall says there are too many bureaucrats in the 80 PHOs that cost more than $30 million a year to run.

"At a time when we've no money, the question has to be asked -- do we want to maintain 720 PHO directors, some being paid up to $800 a meeting," he was quoted as saying in the Sunday Star-Times.

"No we don't. We simply have too many of these PHOs in the country and the resources are too thinly spread."

PHOs were established by the previous government in 2002 and bring together GPs, nurses and other health professionals in single organisations.

Labour's health spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, said Mr Ryall was using "extreme and totally atypical figures" to justify plans to slash the number of PHOs.

"Tony Ryall wants to hand over the running of PHOs, which in many cases are doing a wonderful job in improving the health of a handful of wealthy IPAs (Independent Practitioner Associations)," she said.

"The inevitable result will be considerable increases in the cost of seeing a doctor."

Ms Dyson accused Mr Ryall of wanting to keep doctors happy.

"It is madness at any time to put doctors ahead of patients when it comes to primary health care and it is particularly so to give power groups of doctors in a few IPAs the licence to print money," she said.

Mr Ryall, who had argued for years there were too many bureaucrats in the health system, said millions of dollars could be saved in administrative costs, which could be used to improve frontline services.

"Most New Zealanders wouldn't know a PHO if they tripped over it," he said.

"The future is about fewer, larger PHOs."

The Sunday Star-Times said the recommendations were in a report which had not yet been published.

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