Free health programme targets Tokoroa children
Free health care is on the cards for Tokoroa’s youth. Caitlin Wallace reports.
Money will no longer be an issue for families struggling to pay child doctor fees.
May 1 will see the Tokoroa Medical Centre become the second centre to offer free health care to children aged 0-18.
Midland Health Network chief executive John MacaskillSmith believed costs may have been a factor for parents avoiding the doctor.
‘‘We understand there have been occasions where parents and caregivers may not have taken their child to see a GP, nurse or other health professional for medical advice and support because of barriers such as cost,’’ he said.
The hope is that the scheme will encourage parents not to delay medical treatment for their child and encourage more proactive and preventive use of the local health services, he said.
Meanwhile, Tokoroa Health Limited has offered the free service to children under 18 for the past three years.
Dr Iain McDonald from Tokoroa Health Limited said the initiative has been successful in targeting age groups. ‘‘I think that we are able to see an awful lot more people, more of the teenagers because it’s a group we don’t see a lot of,’’ he said.
McDonald said he was pleased that Midlands had followed suit.
Macaskill-Smith said they too have realised the potential benefit free health care will bring to teenagers.
‘‘This is a vital time in their lives to educate them on the importance of being healthy and accessing the right health care services at the right time,’’ he said.
The cost of a consultation for patients in the 0-6 years age group is free right now but patients aged 6-18 years pay $11.50.
Midlands will still receive the same funding from the government, he said.
However, the organisation has decided to re- prioritise its spending.
‘‘This is the first of a number of changes Midlands Health Network, Pinnacle and Tokoroa Medical Centre will be working through with a view to achieving better health outcomes for the South Waikato community,’’ Macaskill-Smith said.
HEALTHY KIDS: Taliyah Lepaio-Gamlen, 10, left and Terepai Tunupopo-Tamarama, 9, will be two of the hundreds of children eligible to receive free health care.