Waitemata DHB epidemiologist Dr Lifeng Zhou says studies have consistently shown that people with an ongoing relationship with their GP tend to get diagnosed more quickly, and spend less time in hospital.
“It’s about keeping people healthy and well. When you have a doctor you trust and see regularly, not only does it ensure that you get the right treatment when you are unwell, but your doctor will have a good idea of your overall health, lifestyle and risk factors to watch out for, such as conditions like heart disease that may run in your family.”
GPs are generally the first point of call for medical treatment. Most GPs in New Zealand belong to a Primary Health Organisation (PHO), which aim to deliver healthcare services to people in its community at an affordable cost.
Dr Zhou says enrolment is easy and costs nothing.
“All you need to do is complete a simple registration form. If you enrol, you get benefits including cheaper doctor’s fees and a charge of only $3 for each prescription. In some practices and areas, enrolled children under 6 are even seen free.
“People are also able to access free interpretation services, if required, and the doctor’s practice will include patients who are enrolled for regular check-ups as well as immunisation reminders for their children.
“Most importantly, because your GP knows what’s normal for you, he or she is likely to notice any changes that could indicate health problems.”
The Your Local Doctor campaign will target the Chinese, Korean and Indian communities – Auckland’s three largest Asian ethnic groups – through articles and advertising in ethnic media, a dedicated informational website (www.yourlocaldoctor.co.nz), along with posters and leaflets at key community focal points.
In Auckland, the enrolment rate among Asian communities is around 10 per cent lower than the enrolment rate of people of New Zealand European descent.
Dr Zhou says language barriers and a lack of awareness have been cited as the main factors behind the low enrolment rates.
For further information visit: www.yourlocaldoctor.co.nz