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ACEM statement on 2017 New Zealand Budget

ACEM statement on 2017 New Zealand Budget

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) offers the following comments on some of the specific measures in the 2017 New Zealand Budget.

Quotes attributable to New Zealand Faculty Chair Dr John Bonning

Investment of $3.9 billion for District Health Boards

We welcome the investment, including the extra $879 million next year. It is absolutely required given the huge increase in acute (and elective) demand on public hospitals. Patients in our hospitals’ emergency departments (EDs) will no doubt be the beneficiaries of some of this funding to improve patient care in acute settings, but ACEM stresses that just pouring more money into the system is not the whole solution to the systemic issues faced by emergency doctors and nurses - process, cultural and governance change is required.

Real, long-term approaches to tackling access block and overcrowded EDs are needed. The situation this week at Waikato Hospital must be avoided and we cannot afford it to be repeated across the country.

The growth and ageing of the population will continue to increase demands on the healthcare system, so we call on the government, healthcare providers and the healthcare workforce to commit to a whole-of-system approach to address these major issues.

Mental health

New and innovative approaches to addressing mental health are crucial as EDs are under increasing demand from more people with a mental illness seeking care, especially after hours.

This group of patients is very vulnerable. For those experiencing a mental health crisis, being in an overcrowded ED for hours, waiting for care, in an unsettling and unfamiliar environment, can only have negative consequences.

$52.3 million for emergency ambulance services

This is timely but we do note voices from the wider heath sector questioning if it is enough and concerns that the sector’s needs have been ignored for so long.

Other measures

ACEM wants to ensure New Zealanders receive the best and most appropriate care, based on evidence. In order to rationally allocate limited resources in the health sector, all professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and other professional groups, must choose wisely and discuss tests, treatments and procedures with their patients to ensure the personal outcomes for patients and their families that are ultimately improved.


• $3.9 billion over four years into Vote Health taking the total health investment to $16.77 billion in 2017/18

• $1.54 billion for wage increases for 55,000 care and disability support workers as part of the pay equity settlement.

• $205 million for disability support services. This includes $27 million which will go to the Enabling Good Lives programme.

• $60 million for Pharmac to provide more access to new medicines.

• $52.3 million for emergency ambulance services.

• $38.5 million to continue the roll-out of the bowel screening programme.

• $100 million through the Budget 2017 Social Investment Package for innovative new mental health services.

*Source - New Zealand Treasury (


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