16 May 2014

Rural GPs foresee fish hooks in Budget

7:15 pm on 16 May 2014

The Rural General Practice Network is pleased to see increased funding for health in this week's Budget.

But it's concerned about how much of that will filter through to rural health services.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Chairman Jo Scott-Jones said there needed to be a greater focus on making sure rural services had access to increased funding for services such as elective surgery and cancer treatment.

"We know that there are worse outcomes for people living in rural communities across a range of conditions.

"Those are issues often around access, so rural communities do tend to have a lower socio-economic index and often a higher Maori index.

"There's a higher needs group of people living in rural communities, and you combine that with distance from the centre and it all results in an increased cost of providing services to those communities."

The $1.8 billion of extra money includes almost $9 million more for rural general practices over four years but Dr Scott-Jones says even that comes with fish-hooks attached.

"This is something we've been talking about for quite a long time and if practices make some significant changes in the way that they are currently subsidised, then there is an opportunity for DHBs and PHOs to have access to extra funding, through alliance teams.

"But again, there is an awful lot of work to do and quite a few fish-hooks in that for rural practices, through shifting this funding into alliances, so it's good to see that but the devil is in the detail."