24 Sep 2012

Health targets will take time - GPs

10:33 am on 24 September 2012

The president of the College of General Practitioners says it will take time for doctors to reach the Government's health targets for the primary health care sector.

Associate health minister Jo Goodhew told a health conference in Auckland on Saturday that targets on heart and diabetes checks and help to quit smoking were not being met.

Ms Goodhew said 34% percent of patients who smoke are offered to help quit compared to the target of 90%.

Only 46% have been checked for heart problems with diabetes in the past five years compared to the goal of 75% by next year.

College of General Practitioners president Dr Harry Pert says the figures do not take into account doctor patient conversations that are not recorded.

He says the targets are fairly new and GPs will need to get used to recording every check and recommendation they make to patients.

Ms Goodhew told the conference that by 2025, the increased proportion of people aged over 65 would see health costs rise an extra $2 billion a year.

Dr Pert says if the Government re-focuses on reducing avoidable harm such as from alcohol, tobacco and poor diet, more money will be available to spend on other health problems.

He says small changes, like reducing unnecessary tests and prescriptions, will make the budget go further.