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Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer

Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the last six budgets. A shortfall of $500 million this year means the sector’s funding has been slashed by $1.7 billion since 2010.

“It comes as leaked documents reveal plans are also underway to centralise control of district health boards and move to contestable funding.

“The Government paints this as a ‘quest for efficiencies’. That is only one part of the picture. DHBs are facing a financial double whammy, confronted by rising costs – due to factors such as cost pressures, demographic changes and an ageing population – at the same time they are being told to make savings of millions of dollars.

“Put the two together and you no longer have a health sector with the ability to provide Kiwis with high quality safe patient care, where and when it is needed.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman may think he has mastered the art of double speak but he cannot argue this report is an exaggeration. It is glaringly obvious New Zealand’s health system has been systematically underfunded for the last few years.

“The Government is simply squeezing too hard and investing too little.

“That is not sustainable. When people are stretched, things go wrong. We already have examples of that, including warnings from resident doctors at North Shore hospital about staff shortages putting patients’ lives at risk and pressures on mental health services.

“Over half of the country’s district health boards are running deficits. Indications from Treasury are that cost pressures will only intensify over the next few years, requiring ever more significant changes to the health system.”

To read the report click here