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Senior Doctors Urge Govt to Properly Fund Public Health

Senior Doctors Urge Government to Properly Fund Public Health

“The Government has an opportunity this week to fix the longstanding problems which are preventing thousands of New Zealanders each year from getting the health care their doctors know they need,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

The Government’s Budget for the coming year will be revealed on Thursday 26 May – and Mr Powell says a pre-Budget analysis by the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) and ASMS shows that Vote Health’s operational expenses would need to rise by nearly $7 million (over $750 million when already announced additional new services are included).

“That’s just to maintain the health services we currently have,” he says. “In real terms, it would represent a further decline in public health funding over recent years. We’re seeing the effects of that decline in the number of people who are really struggling to be treated for a wide range of conditions. These are ordinary New Zealanders who can’t get the surgeries they need to get them back to work or leading active lives.

“The reality is that New Zealand has longstanding shortages of senior doctors in our public hospitals with the situation getting worse rather than better. The Government likes to spin the numbers and say that more doctors are working in health than ever before but it ignores the fact that this is not keeping up with increasing demand leaving patients in the care of over-worked tired hospital specialists. We need many more now and in the future if we’re to keep up with the level of health need in this country.”

Leaked documents on the health budget, recently reported in the media, show DHBs would receive just $340 million.

“If that turns out to be true, DHBs could be facing massive funding cuts at a time when we need investment in our hospital specialist workforce,” says Mr Powell.

The paper is available online at

“The Government needs to step up on Thursday and show it’s prepared to fund the health system properly and invest in the health workforce so that patients can get the care they need.”


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