INDEPENDENT NEWS

PHARMAC's Praise Misguided - Roy

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2005 01:07 PM
PHARMAC's Praise Misguided - Roy
Heather Roy
Monday, 28 November 2005
Press Releases - Health
PHARMAC's comments yesterday about the number of people not picking up prescriptions because of cost concerns are misleading, and don't show the real trend of prescription pickup by New Zealand patients, says ACT Health Spokesman Heather Roy.
PHARMAC's comments were made in response to the 2005 Commonwealth Fund survey of sicker New Zealand adults, which was released two weeks ago.
"PHARMAC is obviously trying to 'talk up' its patch ahead of any review of New Zealand's pharmaceutical strategy," Mrs Roy said.
"In fact, New Zealanders are only marginally ahead of Australia, Canada and the UK when it comes to picking up their prescribed medicines. The report shows that the situation is actually deteriorating. When compared to last year's result, the number of people not filling a prescription has increased by 72%.
Other real concerns are highlighted by the Commonwealth Fund report - the survey shows a 45% increase since 2001 in the number of people discouraged from seeing their doctor by the cost of a consultation," Mrs Roy said.
"The cost of care means that almost one in three people who are sick avoid their doctor, and one in five avoid prescriptions. This exposes the lie behind Labour's claim that PHOs would remove cost as a barrier to people seeking treatment.
"A great deal of taxpayers' money is being spent on the primary care strategy, but Labour's main objective - better primary healthcare for all New Zealanders - isn't being delivered.
"The former Minister of Health refused to accept any criticism of her PHO project. I call on the new Minister to critically re-evaluate the PHO structure and the way in which primary health services are funded.
"We should return to a fee for service, and utilise the Community Services Card program to better effect, so that those requiring extra financial assistance receive it for both medical care and the cost of prescriptions.
"Funding for health services shouldn't be based on where you live and the colour of your skin," Mrs Roy said.
ENDS

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