Hawke's Bay's largest provider of primary health services is introducing free family doctor and nurse visits for under 18-year-olds enrolled with its health team.
Chief executive Andrew Lesperance said this would give more than 1700 teenagers living in Hastings and Havelock North free access to see their doctor, nurse practitioner or nurse.
"Offering free doctor visits for young teenagers is an important step towards youth establishing good long-term healthcare relationships which will help ensure they look after themselves now and in the future," he said.
"As the region's largest primary health provider, we recognise the leadership role we play in delivering services which help towards improving the lives and well-being for all those living in our local communities."
The free visits for under 18s is in partnership with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, which became the first DHB in the country to provide extra funding beyond the Government's policy which was extending to under 14s.
"Along with improving access to health services, we are also focused on establishing very good, relatable relationships between young teenagers and their healthcare team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others," Mr Lesperance said.
"We want to do as much as possible to help encourage youth to be able to talk openly with their doctor and nurses about their health and we welcome the ability to enable this to happen by removing financial barriers."
Keeping up with the digital age, all patients over the age of 16 could sign up to use The Hastings Health Centre's web portal "Manage My Health" which improves communication and access to patient information, along with being able to book appointments online.
"Staying connected with youth through the digital world they live in today is another great way to engage with them to ensure they look after their health and stay well," Mr Lesperance said.
"Making sure primary and community health services are far more accessible is a real focus for us here at The Hastings Health Centre, and technology is going to play an ever-increasing role in this going forward."
All appointments under the free service for under 18s must be Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.
The services also included routine prescriptions but did not cover urgent care, ACC consultations, x-ray or diagnostic services.