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Health should be free and universal - Alliance

Alliance Party says health care should be truly free and universal Alliance Party Media Release - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Sunday, November 2nd 2008

The Alliance Party in announcing its health policy today stressed that it was the only party in this election that was offering truly free and universal health care for all New Zealanders, according to health spokesperson, Tom Dowie. "Our party wants to see free and universal health care provided across the spectrum of health services ranging from primary care (GP visits) to hospital and dental care.

We would like to see our system modelled on the British National Health Service which celebrated its silver anniversary this year." Other political parties health policy offerings are nowhere close to what the Alliance is offering in that no New Zealander will have to pay for dental check-ups, doctor visits or hearing and eye tests ever again.

"This has been the case in the UK since their Atlee Labour Government introduced the NHS and this is why many Britons have come to cherish their health system. We would like to see the New Zealand health system claim that place too but that has been difficult to attain given the problems that have bedevilled it in recent years," says Mr Dowie. These problems have included increasing waiting lists for many surgery and clinical assessments, a lack of qualified medical specialists and even practising GPs, and exorbitant charges to see crucial specialists like dentists and optometrists for many people. Mr Dowie has pledged that in order to rectify this state of affairs, the party will:

Increase health funding over three years from 6.8% to 8% of GDP and seek cross-party agreement to maintain it at that level. Put in place a funding increase of $1.4 billion to our public health service and this will see free doctors visits introduced, removal of prescription charges and reduced waiting lists. • Put more resources towards public health initiatives such as sexual and reproductive health.

Introduce free hearing and eye tests and dental check-ups for the first time in New Zealand; Make child health a priority, by supporting facilities to treat children's illnesses and a publicly funded national immunisation programme.

Adequately fund Plunket Well Child services as an investment in our future.

Keep remaining rural hospitals open and plan hospital services so that 90% of New Zealanders are less than 60 minutes away by road. Change the election and appointment system for District Health Board members to ensure meaningful community control of our health system. The Alliance will fund health and other social programmes through a genuinely progressive tax system. "When combined with other policies including moves to improve our housing stock, measures to end child poverty and promote better education, a more fair and equitable society will emerge and that will promote a positive cycle that will lead to better health outcomes for all Kiwis," says Mr Dowie.

ENDS

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