15 Jul 2015

Kids in Auckland missing out - Labour

9:36 am on 15 July 2015

Thousands of children in Auckland are missing out on free doctors' visits, the Labour Party says.

Labour Deputy Leader, Annette King.

Labour deputy leader and health spokesperson Annette King (file) Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Government promised at last year's election to make all appointments and prescriptions free for children aged under 13 from July 2015.

At the beginning of the month, it said nearly all general practices had signed up to the scheme.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that only 44 practices - or 4 percent - of 1012 general practices across the country had not opted into the scheme by 30 June.

It said 34 of those practices came under the three Auckland DHBs - Auckland DHB, Counties Manukau DHB and Waitemata DHB - but nine had since indicated they would be opting in.

Labour said there had been a lower uptake by general practices in Auckland compared to other parts of the country and it said government under-funding was to blame.

The party's health spokesperson Annette King said her figures, obtained under the Official Information Act, showed 22 Auckland DHB practices had chosen not to opt into the scheme.

She said that meant up to 5000 children would not be able to see their GP for free.

"I hope that [the numbers] do reduce. As many as possible in the scheme is what we want."