Rotorua Daily Post: Spending on Health increases to a record $15.9 billion

Friday, June 5, 2015

When kiwis need to use the healthcare system, it is important that they get the best and quickest service that is possible, in all parts of the country. Despite tight economic times the total spending in the health sector for the coming year will reach a record $15.9 billion. This money will ensure that people in Rotorua and around the country have access to a world class public health system. We have a great record in backing the Health sector and the Budget furthers our commitment to giving doctors and nurses the best tools possible to continue the great work that they are already doing.

For the sixth year in a row, our investment in elective surgery will increase by a record level. As part of the Budget, the Health Minister announced a further $98 million will be invested to provide more elective surgery to prevent orthopaedic conditions by replacing hips and knees. This means that since 2008 we have lifted the number of patients receiving elective surgery by 44,000 compared with the previous year, with an all-time record 161,933 hip, knee and other elective surgeries performed to help ease unnecessary pain.

Cancer is a nasty disease, which sadly most people will have a connection to. Since being elected in 2008, we have reduced waiting times for patients who need radiation or chemotherapy treatment to only four weeks. This means people are no longer having to head overseas to Australia for cancer treatment, and can get the gold standard of care right here in New Zealand.

More money will be invested in fighting the disease with $12.4 million being invested to extend the bowel cancer screening pilot to December 2017 will be welcome news for many families. The programme has treated more than 6,000 people with a colonoscopy to identify whether a person has cancer or pre-cancerous growth to get treated early and save lives. The programme has delivered good results in its trial and could help cancer sufferers nationwide shortly.

More money for hospice and palliative care services will ensure that people who are terminally ill are as free from pain and suffering as possible, while also providing important care and support to families and friends. $76.1 million will mean bigger facilities and more specialist nurses to provide this vital care when it is needed.

These announcements are in addition to making visits to the doctor and prescriptions for kids under 13 free from 1 July, something we announced during the election campaign last year. This means that a further 17,000 kids in Rotorua will now be able to head to the doctor without costing their parents, removing an often expensive barrier to being healthy.

Quality, affordable healthcare is crucial, and kiwis deserve a system that they can rely on when they need it the most. I applaud hard work of healthcare professionals in Rotorua and everywhere else in the country. Thanks to them our health sector is performing at a high level. We will continue to invest in them and the programmes they undertake so people live longer, happier lives.