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Health Funding Injection A Big Step In The Right Direction

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the government’s pre-Budget funding announcement delivers a welcome shot in the arm for a health system which has been teetering on the edge.

The Finance and Health Ministers have announced an extra $3.92 billion in operational funding over the next four years in what they describe as the largest injection into health in a decade.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says it is money the sector has been crying out for and will help correct some of the chronic underinvestment in our hospitals and health services.

“The effects of that underinvestment have been playing out in decaying buildings, worsening waiting lists and access to healthcare, along with staffing shortages and burnt out workforces.”

“It is pleasing to see the government acknowledging that historical underfunding, but our health system has been operating in a hole for so long, it will take a lot more than one budget to climb out,” she says.

Sarah Dalton says New Zealand has a long tail of patients who are missing out on treatment.

“Putting money in to clear the Covid-19 backlog is welcome, but that backlog comes on top of what we estimate to be almost half a million patients whose treatment is being deferred or who aren’t getting access to specialist care because hospitals are too full and they don’t meet treatment thresholds”.

On the face of it, the funding package represents real investment in rebuilding our health system but ASMS will be looking to see more detail in the full Budget around how the money will be broken down and distributed throughout DHBs and health services.

“So at the moment it’s more of a ‘so far so good’ and let’s see the full details,” Sarah Dalton adds.

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