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Less than healthy outlook for health sector

Less than healthy outlook for health sector

Funding for the health sector in Budget 2015 falls well short of expectations and will do little more than meet current demand, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“This is the botox budget – it irons out a few wrinkles in the short term but does nothing for the long-term.

“A leaked Cabinet paper obtained by me in December has proved to be totally accurate.

“In it Treasury warned that even with the $320 million available DHBs would find it ‘extremely challenging’ to manage pressures and any gaps in funding would need to be bridged with ‘efficiency gains’ of around $120 million.

“The same document stated the Ministry needed $150m to just keep treading water, but the Budget has provided just $67 million.

“In other words we will continue to see inequalities in service and New Zealanders missing out on essential health care.

“Of particular concern is the Government’s blinkered thinking on a national bowel screening programme and the effect of reductions on oral health, mobile surgical services, workforce training and capability and mental health.

“Cancer experts have been urging the Government to make bowel screening more widely available for years. A hundred Kiwis die each month from the disease. How many more will it take before the Government wakes up?

“Funding to train our health workforce has fallen significantly as well yet demand for qualified health care workers has never been higher and the number of kids having teeth extracted under general anaesthetic is growing.

“To ignore all that now will cost us in the future. Prevention and early intervention are far more effective than picking up the pieces down the track.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s failure to heed the warnings and convince his colleagues that health is severely stretched and needs more than a little tweaking will impact on all of us,” Annette King says.

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