wcdhb banner
News and Media Releases

Media Releases Archive

Introducing This Page

This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

September 3, 2007

Former Special Medical Areas decision

The West Coast District Health Board supports the decision by Minister of Health Pete Hodgson that will allow it to introduce a policy of fairness and consistency across all of its primary care practices.

West Coast District Health Board chairman Professor Gregor Coster acknowledged that this had been a difficult decision for the Board.

"The Board considered this decision at considerable length, taking into account all the submissions that were received during the public consultation. The Board felt that it was important that there was equitable access to primary health care services on the Coast, in the interest of fairness, and so decided to support change," Professor Coster said.

Chief Executive Kevin Hague said the DHB provided primary care across the West Coast and in recent years it had proved difficult to justify free primary health care for some while others who in many cases lived just a few minutes away had to pay.

Mr Hague said at the end of 2006 the DHB decided that because investment in primary health care had helped to significantly reduce the cost of seeing a medical professional the time was right to consider whether former Special Medical Areas should continue to receive free GP and nurses visits.

"The DHB has an obligation to provide a consistent and equitable level of service for all its patients."

South Westland has six rural nurse specialists and one GP, at five locations, for a permanent population of fewer than 2000 people, giving it one of the highest levels of access to primary care on the West Coast. Ngakawau also has a rural nurse specialist and receives regular GP clinics.

The West Coast DHB recently made the decision to join the Very Low Cost Access scheme which means children under the age six are free, young people aged six to 17 years of age will be $10.50 and adults will be $15.50.

"We have done our absolute best to ensure that people are not going to significantly financially disadvantaged.

"We know that not everyone is going to be happy with this decision - however the DHB has an obligation to all 31,000 people on the West Coast and we believe this is the right decision."

Background information on former Special Medical Areas [PDF document, 16 KB]

For more information please contact
Vikki Carter
Community Liaison Officer
03 768 0499, Extn. 2665
027 245 9595

Back to the Media Releases Archive