NZ Medical Association says Government 'failing' to help Kiwis get primary care treatment

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) is accusing the Government of "failing" to help New Zealanders be treated in primary care clinics.

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on The AM Show on Monday where she discussed the crisis in emergency departments (EDs).

The NZMA says it has concerns about the comments she made, especially around primary care's contribution to their situation. Ardern said she'd like to see a focus on preventing people from ending up in EDs in the first place.

"What we've got to keep working on is when people come to our emergency departments, sometimes they're preventable illnesses that have just got away on us, they haven't been treated properly in primary care," she said.

Dr Kate Baddock, NZMA chairperson, said on Tuesday Ardern's comments suggest that general practices are "failing" to treat people in the community.

"This is simply untrue. The failing rests with the Government," Dr Baddock said.

"General practice is the cornerstone of primary care and this is where the solutions lie, not the blame."

Ardern said on Monday help is on the way, revealing the Government has plans for a reform of the healthcare sector which it will announce in the coming weeks.

"We're very clear that things need to change," she said.

"We think it's incumbent on us to fix that and in the coming weeks, you'll see us putting out the blueprint for what a renewed health system will look like. It is significant the change we're working on."

NZ Medical Association says Government 'failing' to help Kiwis get primary care treatment
Photo credit: File

Both Dunedin Hospital and Whangārei Hospital reached capacity last week and asked people to keep the ED for emergencies only. The Southern DHB even declared a "code black - critical situation" in response to the demand on Dunedin Hospital

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine President Dr John Bonning told The AM Show on Monday hospitals have reached a crisis point. He said the patients just keep coming and more resources are needed to deal with them.

"This has been coming for three years the volume of people presenting to emergency departments has increased and we've just hit the ceiling."

Dr Bonning said the issue isn't with ED, it's when these patients need to be admitted to hospital the issue starts.

"When they need to go to hospital those resources are not available."

Mondays are the worst. Last week he said Auckland's Middlemore Hospital had 60 patients waiting for beds, while Auckland Hospital had 40.

"It's repeated across the country."

To try and alleviate the pressure Dr Bonning said the Government needs to carefully allocate the funding it gives the health sector and ensure it's spread evenly across the country.