Free GP and nurse visits for rangatahi aged up to 24 years

Rangatahi (young people) in Hawke’s Bay aged between 14 and 24 years of age are being funded to see their GP or Registered Nurse for free, following repurposed funding being allocated.

Te Whatu Ora in Hawke’s Bay today announced the funding package, secured until June 2024, which was offered to all general practices in Hawke’s Bay effective from 1 May, including co-payments for funded prescriptions.

Executive Director Planning, Funding and Performance, Emma Foster, says the region-wide zero fees rangatahi contract means young people across the rohe aged up to 24 years will be able to see their GP or Registered Nurse of choice for free, as long as their practice has signed up to the funding package.

In New Zealand zero fees health care is funded for all tamariki /rangatahi up to the age of 14 years.

“This is great news for Hawke’s Bay as this will extend free health care for rangatahi over and above Government’s zero fees for under-14s up until age 24 years,” said Mrs Foster.

The repurposed funding expanded on a rangatahi service contract introduced by the former Hawke’s Bay District Health Board in 2016, which extended free health care in the region up to the age of 18 years.

“That contract was limited to selected providers who chose to sign-up to provide free health care services.  After feedback from rangatahi to deliver wraparound services, including mental health and sexual health, the contract was refined with new providers appointed in 2022 following a contestable process,” Mrs Foster said.

“However, GP and community feedback following the refined contract was that continuity of care and valuable doctor-patient relationships would be lost by rangatahi who had already formed a trusted bond with their chosen practitioner, and may not wish to seek health care elsewhere.

“We have worked closely with our Health Hawke’s Bay partners since by looking at options aligned to the Te Pae Tata New Zealand Health Plan designed to reduce barriers to health care, no matter where people live.

“Earmarking under-utilised rangatahi funding means we are now able to expand the contract, as well as the age limit, by offering all general practices zero fee health consultations for their patients aged up to 24 years, including funded prescription co-payments, guaranteed for the next two years.”

Mrs Foster says Te Aka Whai Ora in Hawke’s Bay will remain overseeing management of the 2022 contract with selected providers, while Te Whatu Ora in Hawke’s Bay will oversee management of the new funding model being offered to all general practices.

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