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Children's Health Monitor Finds Increasing Hospital Admission Rates for Children

13/12/2011

Embargoed until 2pm Monday 13 th December

(website www.nzchildren.co.nz to be updated Monday 13 th December at 2pm)

The Paediatric Society today expressed its concern regarding recent increases in hospital admissions for children, with today’s Update of the Children’s Social Health Monitor finding that hospital admissions for a basket of medical conditions which were sensitive to socioeconomic conditions, had increased in the last two years.

Professor Innes Asher, a Paediatric Society spokesperson, noted that most of these socioeconomically sensitive medical conditions were in fact infectious and respiratory diseases (e.g. bronchiolitis and skin infections), with the increases in rates seen in the past two years equating to around 2,000 extra hospital admissions a year (when 2009 rates were compared with 2007). She also noted that it was amongst Maori and Pacific children that the increases had been most marked.

The Monitor also found rises in the number of children reliant on DPB and Unemployment benefit recipients over the past two years, which were of concern said Professor Asher, as the 2004 NZ Living Standards Survey, had found that 58% of families with children who relied on benefits as their main source of family income were living in severe or significant hardship, which in turn was associated with such things as not having a raincoat or shoes for children, and postponing doctors visits because of cost.

Professor Asher noted that while broader measures to address living standards and child poverty were required in the longer term, in the shorter term, there were a number of things the health sector could do to address the increasing hospital admissions rates, with one of the most important being ensure that all children had access to free primary health care, even if it was in the weekends or after hours.

For further comment please contact:

Professor Innes Asher,
Head, Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health
The University of Auckland
i.asher@auckland.ac.nz mobile 021 492262

Dr Amanda D’Souza
0210330547

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