June 28, 2021
Missed GP visits put tamariki in hospital
Māori and Pacific children face more barriers to seeing a GP than other children and those who do are twice as likely to be hospitalised.
That’s the finding of a Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington study using data from the long-running Growing Up in New Zealand study.
It found 8.3 percent of Māori children and 7 percent of Pacific children experienced barriers to seeing a GP between the ages of 12 and 24 months, compared with 2.8 percent of Pākehā children.
Lead author Dr Mona Jeffreys says children who don’t see a GP at that early age are more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital when they are about the age of 4.
She says this has major health, social, and cost implications for whānau and the health system.
It can also affect things like schooling, and has a knock-on effect on the wider experience of childhood.
Dr Jeffreys says social determinants of health and racism explain some of the results but not all.
The most common barrier reported was not being able to get an appointment, followed by needing after hours care or not having transport. Cost also remained a barrier for some children. It is possible costs were incurred for non-standard visits, children not enrolled at a practice, travel, alternative caregivers for other dependents, and time off work.
“For someone who is paid by the hour, taking time off to take your child to the doctor sometimes is not an option. Things have to be really serious before someone will take time off if they are going to lose wages on top of the cost of getting there,” says Dr Jeffreys.
The Prevalence and Consequences of Barriers to seeing a GP report was funded by the Ministry of Social Development’s Children and Families Research Fund
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