MANAGER: Christine Kampfraath
Rotorua residents needing after-hours healthcare for their children under 6 will no longer have to pay.
Lakes District Health Board recently completed negotiations with Lakes PrimeCare to introduce the free service after 5pm each day, until the medical centre closes at 10pm.
Lakes District Health Board communications officer Sue Wilkie said the initiative was being rolled out nationally to remove barriers for accessing healthcare.
“It will also help reduce the number of young children being presented to our busy hospital emergency departments with an illness or injury that a GP could have treated.”
She said before now healthcare for under-6s at most medical centres in Rotorua was free during normal working hours but there was a cost when visiting a doctor at Lakes PrimeCare. This change meant the free service would open up for after-hours care as well.
The cost to see a doctor at Lakes PrimeCare before the free service was implemented was $13 for a child under 6 registered in Rotorua and $25 for an under-6-year-old who was visiting from elsewhere.
Lakes PrimeCare closed at 10pm and after that time the hospital’s emergency department was open for service if the child’s injury or illness was serious.
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced the plan for free after-hours healthcare nationwide for under-6s in October last year.
Rotorua is one of the last larger urban areas to achieve free after-hours care, so this is good news for the 6900 enrolled under 6-year-olds and their families,” Mr Ryall said.
“Lakes DHB now has 100 per cent free care available to nearly 10,000 under-6-year-olds, during the day and after hours.”
The free service has already been started in Taupo and Turangi.
Lakes PrimeCare business manager Christine Kampfraath said after-hours care had been subsidised for a while but this removed a financial barrier completely.
She said it came at a time when there were a lot of parents bringing in their children with cold bugs.
Rotorua Budget Advisory public relations officer Pearl Pavitt said it was a good step forward for families because it made healthcare more affordable. She said this initiative, combined with the introduction of community care clinics, highlighted a community that prioritised health.