WRPHO and WDHB announce free after hours care for under-sixes
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Parents across the Whanganui district are celebrating the fact their children under six years of age now have access to free publicly funded after-hours primary health care, in addition to the free care they already receive during normal working hours.
 
Every child under six years of age who needs to see a doctor after-hours is now entitled to free care, regardless of whether they are enrolled with a GP and whether they are a local resident or an out-of-town visitor.  The one exception is - the initiative is not intended to cover ACC co-payments for after-hours care for children under six years. 
 
The goals behind the new initiative are to help improve access to after-hours medical care by reducing financial barriers, addressing the national variability in fees for after-hours service provision for this age group, reducing presentations to emergency departments and enhancing child health outcomes. 
 
The Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO) and National Hauora Coalition are currently establishing the new free after-hours care across the Whanganui region, where after-hours services are provided by Whanganui Accident & Medical (WAM) between 8am and 9pm, seven days a week, at Te Waipuna medical centre and rural general practices at Bulls Medical Centre, Stewart Street Surgery, Taihape Health Ltd and Waimarino Health Ltd. 
 
WRPHO clinical director Dr Alan Mangan says the initiative is a natural extension of the free under sixes service already available in Wanganui GP surgeries during week days.
 
Dr Mangan applauds the Government and DHB for funding the initiative saying, “Hopefully it allows easier access of after-hours services for one of the more vulnerable age groups in our community.”
 
Another who supports the scheme is WAM GP Dr Jean Frieslaar who says having free after-hours urgent care for children under six will help clinicians assess and treat children sooner - a positive move for children and their families.