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Labour's vision for affordable health

Hon Annette King

Member of Parliament for Rongotai

Minister of Health

www.labour.org.nz

7 July 2002

Health Policy builds on Labour's vision for affordable health

Health Minister Annette King says Labour will continue rebuild a health system that New Zealanders can trust.

Announcing Labour’s Health Policy today, Ms King said Labour had already provided the building blocks for a quality public health system, which focuses on keeping people well within their communities.

Ms King said Labour’s top priorities for its second term would be to:

- Improve access to quality primary health care

- Continue to reduce waiting times for elective surgery

- Further improve mental health services, and

- Implement the New Zealand Health Strategy, concentrating on its 13 population health goals.

“We will continue to improve access to quality primary health care by implementing our Primary Health Care Strategy. The first of the country’s Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) was signed up this week in South Auckland, and many more are readying themselves to begin shortly.

“Affordable primary health care will be available to all New Zealanders over the next eight to 10 years, based on their health needs, not on their ability to pay.”

Ms King said initially Labour will reduce the cost of care for high-health need, low-income people. This will be followed by the extension of cost reduction to all New Zealand children and to older people.

Elements of Labour’s Health Policy include:

- Allocating a total of $400 million of new money to primary health care over the next three years. In the next year alone, Labour will reduce the cost of access to primary health care for at least 300,000 New Zealanders

- Phasing out the Community Services Card over the next eight to 10 years, as new funding is provided, but retaining it as long as it is necessary to protect vulnerable New Zealanders

- Establishing PHOs to become the key mechanism through which District Health Boards will meet the needs of their populations

- Encouraging all health professionals to work together within PHOs to provide quality coordinated care for enrolled population. This will help ensure the full range of health professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, mental health workers and others are able to contribute effectively in new and innovative ways, and

- Supporting the development of services by Maori and Pacific providers.

Ms King said another key priority for Labour was continuing to reduce waiting times for elective surgery.

“Good progress has been made in reducing waiting times for both elective surgery and first assessments, but more still has to be achieved. The 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, under the previous government.

“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.”

To achieve this, Labour will:

- Promote nationally consistent clinical assessment procedures

- Encourage better liaison between primary and secondary sectors to ensure patients receive appropriate priority

- Promote preventative services to reduce the need for elective surgery, and

- Actively manage the sector’s performance and publish on a regular basis of up-to-date information on the performance of each DHB

Other priority health areas for Labour include mental health, rural health, and promoting a population health approach.

The full policy document can viewed at www.labour.org.nz


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