7 Apr 2010

Call for cheaper after-hours care for Porirua children

6:51 pm on 7 April 2010

Doctors say the health of thousands of poor children living in Porirua is under threat because of a lack of free after-hours care.

Child health experts believe that up to half of the children are living in deprived circumstances and their health is suffering as a result.

Paediatricians told Wellington's Capital and Coast District Health Board on Wednesday that after-hours care should be made free for children aged under six.

Wellington paediatrician Nikki Blair told the DHB that children in ethnically diverse Porirua have the highest health needs in the district, but face inequities when it comes to getting care.

Dr Blair said children in Wellington get free after-hours care at Wellington Hospital, but those in Porirua are restricted to Kenepuru Hospital where they are charged up to $17 per visit.

She says that has contributed to Porirua East having the highest rate of rheumatic fever among children aged five to 14 in the country, and high rates of skin infection and pneumonia.

Dr Nikki Blair told the DHB it is violating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The DHB says it will study the issue and report back.