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Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016

Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016

There might be no silver funding bullets for rural health in the Government’s latest Budget but there should be trickledown benefits across a range of health initiatives nationally, says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive Dalton Kelly.

“For example the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley will host the start of a bowel screening programme, both of which areas have rural populations, especially the Wairarapa.

“All DHBs are to receive a total of $400 million extra funding and again this should have positive implications for rural New Zealanders across most, if not all, DHB areas.

“Likewise extra primary care funding in areas such as under 13s [free doctors' visits and prescriptions], Whanau Ora, Rheumatic Fever prevention, mental health and $15 million to support air and road ambulance services should also have positive benefits for rural New Zealanders.

“There is also a $2.7 million a year investment in health workforce and training, which I would hope will have some rural health spin-offs, because workforce issues are an ongoing major challenge our sector faces.”

Mr Kelly said extra funding for Pharmac, more money for elective surgery and social initiatives like “warm up New Zealand home insulations” should have benefits for rural New Zealanders too.

The announcement of a $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund to help clean up New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and aquifers over the next decade is also very pleasing, he said.

“At our recent national rural health conference, the issue of water quality in rural New Zealand and the health implications for people, communities and the environment was flagged as one of high priority by rural health professionals.”

ends

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