Labour’s looking healthy; National’s feeling sick
Hon Annette King
Member of Parliament for Rongotai
Minister of Health
Labour’s looking healthy; National’s feeling sick
Health Minister Annette King says Labour’s Health Policy gives strong direction and positive leadership, in stark contrast to the empty promises of National’s “non-policy”.
Ms King said Labour’s policy was strong on detail, and provides assurances that the platform that Labour had built for health in its first term would be improved on in its second.
In comparison, National’s “wishy-washy policy, outlined in the comparisons below, begs more questions than it answers”, she said.
Labour has allocated $400 million to implement the Primary Care Strategy over the next three years.
Labour’s Primary Care Strategy will provide affordable primary health care to all New Zealanders over the next eight-ten years.
Initially, the cost of primary health care will be reduced for high health need, low income people. This will be followed by reducing costs to all New Zealand children and older people.
The Community Services Card will be phased out over the next eight to ten years when other services are in place, but retained as long as it is necessary to protect vulnerable New Zealanders.
Labour also allocated $8 million for GPs to increase the subsidy for children under 6 years. National has no vision or strategy for primary health care.
National has not committed any specific funding for Primary Health Care.
National want to keep the Community Services Card, which currently declares single people living in shared accommodation and earning over $18,924 are rich enough to pay the full cost of primary health care.
Labour is investing $257 million over four years for mental health services to continue implementing the Mental Health Blueprint.
Labour will continue to implement the Blueprint by: rebuilding the mental health workforce, developing regional mental health networks to coordinate and plan services on a regional basis, ensuring a fair distribution of mental health funding across regions, continuing to meet the housing needs of mental health consumers.
National has made no funding commitment to mental health.
Labour has kept its promise by reducing waiting times and providing a health service that focuses on patients, not profit.
Good progress has been made in reducing waiting times to both elective surgery and first assessments.
Latest Elective surgery figures, for the period October to December 2001, show 16,478 patients were waiting more than six months for treatment, less than half the 33,736 people who were waiting in the same period in 1999.
In the next three years, Labour will ensure that there is consistency across New Zealand, that no-one waits for more than six months either for first assessment or for surgery following assessment.
National’s health policy doesn’t mention elective surgery or waiting times.
DHB deficits are currently $170 million over all 21 DHBs.
Labour is putting in place realistic and sustainable health funding over three years.
Labour’s $3.2 billion three-year health funding path laid out in Budget 2002 will enable the sector to plan for service delivery in a genuinely strategic way.
A total of $2.04 billion will be spent by the Crown and District Health Boards over the next four years in public health facilities and debt refinancing. In the 2002/03 financial year $114 million will provide deficit and capital project support for DHBs.
We are confident DHBs will manage their available funding and the needs of local communities, and DHB deficits will be eliminated in three years time.
To illustrate National does not treat health seriously, National has dreamed up make-believe deficit figures, invented a crisis and declared they will offer a ‘rescue package’ for DHB deficits – but they haven’t given any detail whatsoever about what that ‘rescue package’ involves.
Over the next three years, Labour has allocated more than $32 million to go to GPs, nurses and other health workers serving rural communities.
Labour is implementing the recommendations of the Rural Expert Advisory Group that a primary health care premium be paid to help rural areas retain a skilled health workforce.
This funding is in addition to $4 million allocated to the rural bonus scheme and $1 million in each of the next two years for the rural locum scheme.
The $32 million is also in addition to funding for primary health care to be delivered through Primary Health Organisations, many of which are likely to be established first in low-income, high health need rural areas.
Labour also introduced the rural locum scheme and the rural practitioner support scheme, the mobile surgical bus and other mobile services, and Healthline services.
National said they will make $7.5 million available over three years for rural health.
$6 million of this $7.5 million will go towards helping to recruit GPs to rural areas where there is a demonstrated shortage.
$500,000 each year will fund two rural medical training centres.