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Labour boosts primary health care with $60 million

A Labour Government will invest $40 million a year to support GPs providing free or low cost visits to some of our most vulnerable communities, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. 

“The Very Low Cost Access scheme was introduced by the previous Labour Government to support general practices in high needs areas that agree to maintain patient fees at a low level.

“Despite that, in 2013 over half a million adults and 60,000 children didn’t see a doctor when they needed to because of the cost. 

“Labour’s extra funding will see the number of people enrolled in Very Low Cost Access programmes increase by 50 per cent, meaning close to two million Kiwis will receive free or heavily discounted doctors’ visit.

“The current funding formula will be relaxed to make it easier for practices to access VLCA, while existing practices will be able to cut fees further or enhance services.

“We will also boost maternity services and funding to health NGOs by another $20 million a year.

"Primary health care saves money down the track. There are significant benefits to society if we can prevent or minimise the impact of illness early on.

“In addition to this $60 million lift to primary health care a Labour Government will also invest a billion dollars a year into maintaining and improving other vital public services in health and in education.

“Labour has always believed the ability to pay shouldn’t be a barrier to people getting healthcare when they need it.

“We know that inequities within the current system won’t be erased overnight, but by making investments that target well-being and keeping Kiwis healthy we will give all New Zealanders the opportunity for the same life chances.

“Other measures to make primary health care more affordable will be announced at our campaign launch in Auckland on Sunday,” David Cunliffe said.