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Health Minister Tony Ryall today announced plans to extend free doctor visits for under-sixes to after-hours treatment, which was expected to cost about $7 million a year.
DHBs would work with local GPs and after-hours clinics to roll out the programme by July 1.
Mr Ryall said money for the programme would come from "efficiencies'' elsewhere in the health service.
"Free visits after-hours will also help slow the numbers of young children presenting to our busy hospital emergency departments with illnesses their GP clinic could have treated,'' Mr Ryall said.
"Just as with the daytime free under-sixes scheme, there may be some clinics who will not be willing to help young children in this way. DHBs will ensure there are alternatives available within a reasonable distance.''
After-hours fees for under-sixes ranged up to $100 per consultation, with an estimated average fee of about $17.