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High cost of GP visits still a barrier for older children

Free doctor's visits should be extended to all children under 18 as GP charges are a significant barrier for low income families, says Child Poverty Action Group.  

CPAG investigated the costs of GP visits, both in-hours and after-hours, for children aged 6-17 years by surveying 280 practices from the 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) in February 2013.

Download the full report here:  The cost of GP visits for 6-17 year olds in New Zealand 

Free doctor's visits should be extended to all children under 18 as GP charges are a significant barrier for low income families, says Child Poverty Action Group. 

CPAG investigated the costs of GP visits, both in-hours and after-hours, for children aged 6-17 years by surveying 280 practices from the 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) in February 2013.

The survey found the average cost of a visit to a GP in regular daytime hours was $24, with charges ranging from $0 to $60. The average cost of an after-hours visit, which includes evenings and weekends (covering 75% of the week), was $44, with charges up to $89.  

The Free Child Health Care Scheme FCHCS was introduced in 1996 for in-hours GP visits for children aged under 6 and was extended to after-hours visits in 2011. This scheme acknowledges the importance of access to primary healthcare services for young children.

CPAG Health spokesperson Associate Professor Nikki Turner said, "The data in the survey shows the high cost of doctor's visits for many older children.  Children over six are still susceptible to illness and need good access to healthcare.  Some conditions, like rheumatic fever, are actually more common in older children.  A delay in treatment can mean the difference between a short-term, easily treatable condition and rheumatic heart disease causing long-term heart damage.  Unfortunately, GP charges stop many older children seeing a doctor when they need to."

Dr Turner said, "The Government's plan to extend the voluntary scheme for free visits to 6-12 year olds from July next year is commendable.  CPAG would like the scheme extended to all children under 18 to tackle New Zealand's shockingly high rates of hospital admission for preventable diseases."

Download the full report here  The cost of GP visits for 6-17 year olds in New Zealand