20 Jul 2010

NZ ranked fifth for healthcare 'but still compares well'

9:46 pm on 20 July 2010

The Medical Association says aspects of New Zealand's healthcare have slipped but the system still compares well internationally.

The association, which represents GPs, was commenting on the latest report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private US-based research group that has ranked healthcare systems in seven comparable countries up to 2008.

New Zealand is ranked fifth overall. It comes top for the provision of quality care that is safe, well-coordinated and patient-centred but fifth in terms of cost as a barrier to care, because nearly all of those on below-average incomes can't afford to go to a doctor or dentist.

Association chairman Peter Foley says that, as elsewhere, demand is rising but funding is tight.

Dr Gay Keating of the Public Health Association says more funding for primary care, or better targeting of current subsidies, is needed to lift New Zealand's poor scores for preventing ill health.

The survey, which covers the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands, places the Netherlands first and the US last.