It was heartening to hear there has been a big increase in the number of local children under 6 getting free doctors' visits. Nationwide, the numbers are up 25 per cent on four years ago.
Health Minister Tony Ryall was in Hamilton last week to visit one of the 965 general practices in the country providing free doctors' visits to children under 6 during the daytime.
Free doctors' visits are being accessed by 95 per cent of children under 6, including 98 per cent of children from low income families.
The Government is committed to ensuring more young children get to see the doctor when they need to, and removing cost as a reason not to.
This year, more than $30 million is being spent to provide free doctors' visits for children under 6 - double what was spent in 2008.
Mr Ryall said young children can be especially susceptible to illnesses and can deteriorate quickly so it's important they get the right care, at the right time and in the right place.
"Regular doctors' visits also mean children are more likely to receive their vaccinations on time and be protected from childhood illnesses like whooping cough, measles and mumps," Mr Ryall said.
This year the Government introduced free after-hours doctors' visits and 97 per cent of Waikato children under 6 have access to free after-hours care.
As 2012 draws to a close, I thank everyone who has contributed to the health and vitality of our bustling city this year.
We continue to live in challenging times, with many families under considerable pressure, but there are several signs of increasing health and growth in our economy and I remain humbled by the outstanding work so many do in our city to assist others in need.
The marvellous celebrations in Garden Place, and community events throughout the city, including last Sunday's Santa Parade, bring pleasure to many and reflect the countless hours of voluntary service provided by a huge number of Hamiltonians.
Many businesses, service clubs, churches, charitable trusts and other groups also make a huge contribution to the wellbeing of communities in this wonderful city. Thank you to you all.
Please drive safely over the holiday period. Spare a thought for the emergency service personnel who are standing by as most of us relax.
Let's take care of one another, cherish our families and remember the reason for the season.
From my family to yours - Merry Christmas everyone!