10 September 2008

The Government should show its commitment to childhood immunisation by adequately funding its delivery, says the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP).

They were responding to the report, "The Cost of Delivering the Childhood Immunisations at the General Practice Level", which stated that New Zealand continues to have "mediocre" immunisation coverage rates and that the current Immunisation Benefit Subsidy funding is not adequate remuneration to support immunisation service delivery.

The report said government funding for immunisation covered around two thirds of the costs.

Government payments for immunisation are woefully inadequate, and have been for many years, said NZMA GP Council Chair Dr Mark Peterson.

"The Government states that immunisation is a priority, but it needs to back up this commitment with realistic funding. The funding must cover the cost of providing the service, and this includes the extra effort chasing up the 30 percent of children who are hard to reach."

"General Practice wants the best for patients, however General Practice is so busy that we cannot prioritise chasing up the hard to reach children with the current funding," said RNZCGP President Dr Jonathan Fox.

"Considering the inadequacy of funding, General Practice on the whole does a great job delivering childhood immunisation."

General Practice is committed to childhood immunisation, but with the best of intentions many practices simply cannot commit adequate staff and time to complex and difficult follow-up processes if remuneration is inadequate or inappropriately structured.