Under-sixes Review Released

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English today released the evaluation of the first year of the free under-sixes health care programme and confirmed that no changes would be made to the policy.

"The main finding from the independent review is that existing information systems can't provide conclusive evidence that the policy has had either a positive or negative impact. The recommendation is that the scheme be continued until at least 1 February 2000 while more rigorous research is completed.

"I have accepted that recommendation and no change is planned for the policy.

"Other findings from the review were that there was an increase of between 5% and 11% in the number of children under six visiting a GP. There was also an increase of between 6% and 23% in the number of times GPs saw children aged under six.

"The review found that the trend towards increasing child hospital admissions had continued, except for acute respiratory illnesses, where admissions for children under six had decreased," said Mr English.