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Hits And Misses In First Budget -- NZMA

The New Zealand Medical Association welcomes the increased health funding announced in the Budget today, but says Vote: Health is more notable for what is left out.

"Certainly we welcome increased funding for mental health, elective surgery, and the 'closing the gaps' initiatives," NZMA Chairman Dr Pippa MacKay said.

"The funding increases are substantial, and many patients will benefit. But the funding will not go far enough to completely solve the problems."

The NZMA was very pleased to see the Government's commitment to finding solutions to the crisis in the health workforce, with the establishment of a Health Workforce Advisory Committee. However, the $1.8 million given to this committee, over four years, will not go far.

"The NZMA notes that there is no specific funding to provide immediate help for the health workforce crisis. There is nothing specific for medical students, who face massive fees and debt levels, nor is there specific funding to help address the shortage of junior doctors in our hospitals, and help stop the exodus of New Zealand-trained doctors."

Dr MacKay said there were several "great big yawning gaps" in the Budget. "For example, there is no money for initiatives in primary health care or for the National Health Strategy. These proposals are still in the consultation stage, but long-term funding is vital if they are to produce effective results.

"We were also concerned to see that $20 million has been set aside for the establishment of District Health Boards, and to pay for the merger between the HFA and the Ministry of Health. This is more than we had been led to believe."

Dr MacKay said Health Minister Annette King had done well to achieve the levels of funding increases announced today.

On balance, the NZMA has awarded the Labour-Alliance Coalition Government a score of C+ on its first Budget.

CONTACT DETAILS ARE:

Dr Pippa MacKay (03) 351 6198 (wk) (025) 484 718 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager (04) 472 4741 (wk) (025) 284 1081 (mobile)

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