Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, announced that babies will now be enrolled with their GP soon after their birth so they receive essential healthcare such as immunisations, sooner.
"Early enrolment with a GP gives newborns the best start to life and we are making it easier for parents to enrol their baby with their family doctor.
“Currently fewer than half of newborns are enrolled with a GP at 12 weeks,” said Mr Ryall.
“Under the new enrolment policy, GP practices will enter the newborn into their patient database as soon as they are nominated as the baby’s GP by the parents at the birthing unit – rather than waiting to enrol them at their first doctor’s appointment, as currently happens.
“One of the biggest benefits of having a newborn enrolled with a GP straight away is the practices can remind parents when their baby is due for their first immunisation at six weeks of age.
“Currently there are almost no newborns enrolled at six weeks of age which means many start their immunisations late exposing them to preventable diseases like whooping cough and polio. It can also lead to delays in receiving further immunisations – this change will help minimise this risk.
“There is widespread support across the public health service for this plan which will see more babies start their immunisation programme, on time.
“We’ve already achieved great success in lifting our immunisation rates. 90 per cent of Bay of Plenty children are now fully immunised by the age of two – a 25 per cent increase compared to 2009. Nationally, 92 per cent of New Zealand children are fully immunised by age two.
“The next challenge is to ensure all children are up to date with their immunisations at eight-months-old. The new preventative health target that will see 95 per cent of eight-month-olds fully immunised by December 2014 has started this month.”