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Source: New Zealand Government

  • Fewer New Zealanders say cost is a barrier to visiting a GP or getting a prescription.
  • The number of children going hungry has halved over the past decade.
  • Statistics show why the Government has made major investment in mental health.

Official statistics released today show the Government’s targeted health investments are making a real difference to New Zealanders, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

“The New Zealand Health Survey shows Government policies such as making GP visits free for under 14s, increasing subsidies to visit the doctor, providing free school lunches to a million children a week and lifting family incomes are making a real difference to New Zealand’s health,” said Andrew Little.

“In 2018, this Government made GP visits cheaper for 600,000 New Zealanders. Since then, the number of people who say cost is a barrier has been steadily falling.

“It’s pleasing to see the number of people not going to a doctor when they need to because of cost has fallen from 14.4 per cent in the year to July 2017, to 10.7 per cent in the year to July 2022, and the number of people not filling prescriptions because of cost has more than halved over the past decade, from 7.3 per cent in 2011/12, to 3.3 per cent.

“That shows our policies to make health care more affordable are working.

“The survey also shows the number of children living in homes where food sometimes runs out has halved, from 24.1 per cent in the 2012/13 year, to 12.5 per cent in 2021/22. This reflects our increases to benefits and the minimum wage, as well as the impact of our school lunch programme, that delivers more than a million free lunches a week.

“This year, for the first time, the survey also asked whether delays in getting an appointment has stopped people going to a GP.

“The Government is aware that this is an issue for some people, and that’s why we’ve got a whole raft of things under way to increase the number of GPs, including making it easier for overseas-trained doctors to move here and work, and increasing the number of GPs being trained each year from 200 to 300.

“The statistics also show why our community mental health programme is so important, with 8.8 per cent of adults and 6.2 per cent of children reporting having unmet need for professional help to deal with emotions and stress, mental health and substance use.

“This Government is the first to front up and deal with mental health needs at a community level, putting nearly $2 billion over four years into frontline mental health services to help prevent people with mild to moderate mental health issues becoming seriously unwell.

“Many of those people who said that they didn’t get help when they needed it will now be able to get that help from services like the Access and Choice programme, which is now providing nearly 30,000 sessions a month, through more than 400 GP practices.”

“While the survey says the majority of New Zealanders are in good health and say they can get the care they need, we know there is always more to do.

“This survey provides a snapshot in the period immediately before our major health reform kicked in, creating a single, nationwide health system focused on providing healthcare for all New Zealanders.

“Our health reforms and our ongoing investment in Māori health and mental health, alongside steps taken to reduce poverty and the health impacts of poverty, are shown to be working and making a difference to New Zealanders’ health,” Andrew Little said.