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Government Must Face Facts About Funding

The New Zealand Medical Association calls on the Government to face facts about its funding of health services through District Health Boards.

The NZMA has grave concerns that DHBs have not been given enough money to fund existing services, let alone to take on the provision of primary care services.

"Every day we hear in the media about this DHB or that DHB being faced with having to cut services or finance huge deficits. It's time to look at the big picture and seriously ask 'what is going on with our health system - are New Zealanders going to be able to get the care they need?' " said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams.

The Government needs to acknowledge that its current funding is insufficient. "If there is not enough public funding, then either funds will have to come from private sources (including people's pockets), or we will have to accept a decline in the quality and quantity of publicly-funded services. We simply do not accept the option of pretending that all is well.

"The Government should stop raising the public's expectations about health services which are underfunded.

"The Government should stop relying on the goodwill of over-stretched doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, to keep the system going. They have reached their limits.

"The Government cannot take the risk of getting it wrong. Already, even people requiring acute treatment are struggling to gain access to appropriate timely treatment."

The NZMA welcomes the prospect of more funding for primary care, and the new initiatives that have been flagged in this area, but we must accept that there is no evidence that it will reduce the demand for secondary services.

Health funding is the subject of an editorial by Dr Adams in the latest issue of the NZMA Newsletter. Copies are available from the NZMA National Office (phone 04 472 4741).

ENDS


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