Aucklanders seeking urgent after-hours care could be paying less.
In a bid to reduce inequalities and provide affordable after-hours and overnight urgent healthcare, Waitemata and Auckland District Boards are lowering costs at selected clinics.
Patients in the region deemed high-need will pay no more than $39 for after-hours and overnight care. Children under 13 will also be provided with free care.
The move follows a push from John Tamihere calling on the Government to sort out the "after-hours debacle".
Tamahere said he was advocating on behalf of families who couldn't afford $92 for after-hours charge.
"Some families will wait until the next day, or if they fall ill during the weekend, wait for Monday to get to their local GP because they don't have the cash for the after-hours clinic.
"That can't be allowed to continue," he said.
Tim Wood, deputy director of funding for both DHBs, said the newly-negotiated service delivers four more options than were previously available to eligible patients, improving access and providing greater consistency around pricing.
"A key component of this process has been to establish a network of urgent care clinics that charge no more than $39 for our high-needs populations."
He said it was all about reducing some of the cost barriers that may have affected some patients in the past by making after-hours healthcare more affordable and accessible.
"The new service provides four more clinics than were previously available across this combined area and potentially caters for thousands of patients across an incredibly vast area – from Whangaparaoa in the north to Otahuhu in the south."
Waitemata and Auckland DHBs do not contract with every urgent care clinic across their catchments and have no influence over fees charged by those outside of the new agreement.
The latest move complements the similarly-timed announcement of greater access to after-hours care at Counties Manukau DHB where the same fee caps and eligibility criteria apply at selected clinics.