“Today I am pleased to announce funding to help Family Planning New Zealand address long wait times, and help hire more staff in their call centres and clinics, so that New Zealanders can get the sexual health information and clinical services they need,” Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter said.
Family Planning was experiencing financial pressures prior to COVID-19, and waiting times have further increased for those seeking urgent access to contraception, and other sexual or reproductive health services.
Family Planning will receive $427,000 to help reduce wait times by increasing hours for existing staff, hire new clinical and administrative staff, and other cost pressures.
Family Planning continues to deal with a patient-backlog created by a month of appointments that had to be postponed due to COVID lockdown, and fewer people seeking out primary healthcare and other sexual and reproductive health services during COVID-19 Levels 3 and 4.
Additionally, Family Planning has seen a 168 per cent increase [i] in appointments for two new long-acting reversible contraceptives (Mirena and Jaydess) since they became fully funded in November 2019.
“Long acting reversible contraceptives are the most reliable method of contraception available - they make it much easier for women to manage their fertility and reduce unintended pregnancies,” Julie Anne Genter said.
Prior to Covid-19, Family Planning had long waiting times (2-4 weeks) for long acting reversible contraception appointments - the current waiting time in the main centres is now around two months, on average.
“It is so important that Family Planning can continue to keep its 30 centres open and see patients promptly – they provide an important service to all New Zealanders, including young women, Maori, those living in rural communities and those that may not regularly attend their GP or other primary health services,” Julie Anne Genter said.
[i] For the two month period Nov-Dec in 2018 there were 564 IUS inserts. The same period in 2019 with the subsidy in place there were 1,509, an increase of 168%