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Health running on empty

Get ready for more cuts to health at a local level, affecting all New Zealanders, after a Budget that failed to deliver even enough for health services to stand still, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.

“District Health Boards this year needed at least $650 million to stand still but they are over $200 million short of what they need.

“There is nothing in this Budget to address the Government’s elephant in the room, the $1.7 billion underspend on health over the past six years. In fact, things get worse.

“Nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than the Government’s underspend on critical mental health services. The so-called $224 million spend on Mental Health equates to just over one million of new money for each DHB in New Zealand for a year.

“To add insult to injury the Government is piling pressure on DHBs to cover the shortfalls in mental health spending using their own already-stretched budgets.

“That is pathetic and will go nowhere to solving our growing crisis in mental health. Coleman’s Budget is an insult to everyone who has spoken out.

“We know that under the nine years of this Government we have seen a 60 per cent increase in people accessing mental health services, and yet funding has grown by less than half.

“Our GPs will be sadly disappointed by their treatment in this Budget. They have received $9.6 million to cover the annual shortfall they estimated at $45 million.

“It’s a given that GP fees will keep increasing and so will the number of people that have to forgo visiting their GP because of the cost.

“Last year over half a million Kiwis had to bite the bullet and not go to their GP because of the cost.

“Labour has agreed to an urgent review of mental health in our first 100 days and we have already promised to implement a pilot scheme of mental health teams and school based health teams for all state secondary schools.

“A Labour-led Government with a fresh approach will invest in health for all New Zealanders,” says David Clark.