5 Sep 2008

Report reveals major failings in primary healthcare

6:56 am on 5 September 2008

A new report identifies major failings in the way primary healthcare is funded and delivered.

The Government has spent $1.7 billion over the past six years on a radical overhaul of community healthcare, emphasising a team approach rather than individual family doctors.

But the Workforce Taskforce says services vary widely and most money still goes to family doctors.

The report says the revamp aimed to cut the cost of seeing a doctor, reduce inequalities and encourage a multi-disciplinary approach.

But it says the way the sector is funded limits the scope to change services, with most funding still going to general practitioner services rather than nurses and other health professionals.

The report also highlights short-term contracts, red tape, a lack of capital investment, and a vacuum in leadership among other problems that need addressing.

The Health Ministry says it accepts almost all of the taskforce recommendations.

The College of General Practitioners says more money would expand general practices, partly so that extra nurses and others can be trained in the sector.

The Medical Association says extra funding will be needed, because some groups have difficulty accessing funding which largely goes towards services provided by family doctors.