ProCare welcomes extension of free RATs for community providers and members of the public

Leading healthcare provider, ProCare, has today welcomed the announcement from the Minister of Health, Dr Shane Reti, that Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora will continue to provide free rapid antigen tests (RATs) to healthcare providers and the public until 30 June 2024.

This is to support effective ongoing management of Covid-19 outbreaks, to enable access to antiviral medications, and help reduce the impact of Covid-19 on hospital admission rates and people’s illnesses.

Dr Allan Moffitt, Clinical Director at ProCare says: “With the significant uplift in covid cases over the last few months, we welcome today’s announcement from the Minister that RATs will continue to remain free for healthcare providers until 30 June.

“Today’s announcement will provide some clarity for the healthcare sector for the next few months, and it is important that GPs are able to accurately diagnose those with covid from other viral/respiratory illnesses we’re seeing in the community at the moment, so that we can treat patients as needed. It’s also imperative to diagnose early, especially those more at risk and offer them antivirals compared to those who may have a less severe infection,” points out Dr Moffitt.

“We would still strongly encourage those eligible who are yet to have their covid booster to speak to their GP or local pharmacy about getting their booster at their earliest convenience. Additionally, a new ‘commonplace variant’ booster will be available in February, so again, we would encourage people to consider protecting themselves against the latest variants of covid where possible,” continues Dr Moffitt.

“Whilst we welcome the additional funding for free RAT tests, we would implore the Minister to consider reviewing funding for general practices with the utmost urgency. The reality is that many practices are struggling with insufficient funding and don’t have the staff to deliver the services and support needed in their communities. This means longer wait times for patients and increasing financial pressure on practices in terms of their long-term sustainability. The workforce crisis affecting general practice will not improve without achieving pay parity for primary healthcare workers with their hospital counterparts,” concludes Dr Moffitt.

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