To everyone who penned a message to the Minister
Thank you for taking part in the College’s digital postcard campaign, sharing your thoughts and concerns about primary health care with us.
The comments we received were both heartfelt and compelling – and importantly – they have made a difference.
We shared some of the comments with the media (with the authors’ permission) and generated a fair amount of coverage: Newstalk ZB, Radio New Zealand, TVNZ, Hawkes Bay Today, Waikato Times, Stuff, Marlborough Express, TV3 and NZ Doctor.
We also shared the comments with the Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman, and had a lengthy meeting with him to press upon him the importance of what members had raised. He told us at our conference on 29 July that he’d shared them with Prime Minister Bill English.
It is my belief that our collective comments played a significant part in the National Party’s decision to extend $18 GP visits for 600,000 lower income families.
While I realise this is a pre-election pledge, I am relieved to see we finally have a commitment from the incumbents to address the inequities of VLCA.
I was also encouraged to see the health policy announced by the Labour Party. It has committed, if it wins the election, to making GP visits more affordable for all New Zealanders, reviewing the health funding system and training more GPs.
It is pleasing to see primary health care being taken seriously by both major parties. Regardless of who forms a government after 23 September, I am optimistic some level of extra government funding is likely.
I would like to thank you for speaking out and sharing your experiences. Your voice has made a difference.
There is still a lot of work to be done working out the detail and the implementation of any new health policy. The College will be holding the parties to their commitments and asking for a seat round the table. At the moment though, I feel confident we will see some positive change in our sector in the not too distant future.
Dr Tim Malloy
Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners