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Labour commitment to well funded public health

1 September 2005

Labour commitment to strong, well funded public health system

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Health Minister Annette King released Labour’s Health Policy today with a commitment to funding strong public health services, as outlined in the 2005 Budget.

The Budget increased baseline health spending by a billion dollars for the current and future financial years

“Labour will continue to focus on preventive and primary health care and to ensure all communities have access to the health services they need.

“Labour strongly believes in a universal approach to health funding. By July 2007, all New Zealanders, no matter what age, where they live, or what their ethnicity is, will be entitled to the lower cost doctors’ visits and cheaper prescription fees available through Primary Health Organisations.

"Over the past six years Labour has rebuilt the public health sector, provided certainty of health funding and policy direction, and placed the emphasis of health policy firmly on keeping people well within their communities.

“Labour’s health achievements make proud reading. They include:

- The largest hospital upgrade programme (more than a billion dollars) in New Zealand’s history, with new or refurbished hospitals built, under construction, or approved from Northland to Southland.

- An increase in health spending of 60 per cent over the past five years, and a future funding path which gives the sector certainty and reassurance.

- The rollout of the Primary Health Care Strategy which has seen some four million New Zealanders enrolled in PHOs, with all those under 25 and over 65 now receiving subsidised doctors’ visits and prescriptions.

- A stronger more stable workforce, with future workforce planning now firmly on the health agenda.

- The Meningococcal Meningitis B vaccine rollout.

- An extra $40 million this year and in future years to implement the first stage of Cancer Control Strategy.

- The orthopaedic and cataract surgery projects, designed to deliver better quality of life to older New Zealanders in particular.

- Sustained investment in mental health funding and services.

- Progressive removal of asset testing, and an increase in funding to home-based support services.

- More than $37 million in initiatives to improve rural New Zealanders' access to health services including travel subsidies and a mobile surgical bus, which brings specialist services to smaller areas.

“In our next term we will continue to focus on preventive healthcare, and providing affordable and accessible primary health care to everyone.

“We will provide all young New Zealanders with a healthy start to their lives, with more Well Child checks, free hearing tests for all newborns, and a free ‘School Ready’ check up.

“We will continue to plan and build our workforce, and pay our health professionals what they deserve.

“We will continue to deliver strong elective services through a modern hospital system; and we will provide our older people with the health care they need.

"Labour has been steadily rebuilding the public health system for close to six years. There is no doubt that much of that progress, including the roll out of more affordable primary health care, would be sacrificed by National for its tax cuts," Helen Clark said.

ENDS


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