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Health: Good direction; more needed

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Turner on Health: Good direction; more attention to ‘pressure points’ needed

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner was delighted the Government was committed to reaching the OECD average on health research spending, but said the Budget’s health component still needs to be more responsive to pressure points in the sector.

“The Budget shows some key gains in areas United Future has been pushing hard for, such as the recently announced commitment to research funding, but more needs to be done on the ground in, for instance, child and adolescent mental health.

“Children and adolescents have a much higher rate of mental health problems than adults, so we need to target them so they grow up to be healthy adults.

“We’re talking about fences at the top of cliffs and the Government could still do better,” Mrs Turner said, citing United Future’s call for funding to meet the levels mooted in the Blueprint for Mental Health Services report.

“There needs to be more support for their families and more trained staff for adolescent mental health. It is a budget issue and needs to be better addressed that it has been today. The Government’s just talking about better qualified staff, but its about numbers too; there need to be more staff in general.”

Mrs Turner also welcomed the already released health research funding increase, which United Future had strongly advocated.

“United Future quoted from a report by the Australian Expert Group in Industry Studies which found that “the level of funding available for health research in New Zealand has decreased over the past decade, is now well below international standards, and is in serious danger of falling below a level necessary to sustain a functioning health research system.”

“Clearly, we are very pleased that the amount of funding for health research will be increasing in this Budget,” she said.

Ends.

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