We believe that every New Zealander should be able to access world-class healthcare. In 2017, we inherited a health system under serious pressure after years of neglect, and since taking office, we’ve worked hard to turn this around – and we’re making good progress.

Here are some of the ways we’re improving healthcare for all New Zealanders.

Making big changes for better care

We’re making it easier for people to get the care they need before little issues become big problems, requiring hospitalisation. This will ensure Kiwis can get the care they need earlier and help to ease the pressure on our hospitals. We’re also investing in better digital technology, which will help to increase access to health services.

Under Health New Zealand, specialist and hospital services will be planned at a national level and managed via regional networks. This means there will be more consistency of care – improving care for rural and smaller communities – as well as ensuring people have greater certainty around access to complicated or specialist care. The Māori Health Authority will also help to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes for Māori.

Thanks to better coordination across New Zealand’s health system, doctors and nurses will be able to concentrate on keeping people well rather than battling bureaucracy and paperwork

Fixing our hospitals

Our Government has kicked off a massive rebuild programme to make sure New Zealand’s health infrastructure is fit for purpose. We’re upgrading our hospitals and health infrastructure – delivering modern, functional facilities across the country – to support our frontline health workers and ensure people can get better care. On top of improving healthcare across Aotearoa, this work is also creating jobs and boosting our economy.

Making doctors’ visits cheaper

In a country like New Zealand, cost shouldn’t put people off going to see the doctor when they’re sick. That’s why we’ve extended free GP visits for children under 14, as well as reduced the cost of going to the doctor for around 600,000 low-income New Zealanders. On top of this, we’ve expanded dental grants to make sure that more low income Kiwis are eligible for support and can access much-needed dental treatment.  

Improving cancer care

Every New Zealander battling cancer deserves the best possible care, no matter where they live. That’s why we’ve put in place our Cancer Action Plan and established a new Cancer Control Agency to drive better cancer care across New Zealand. We’ve funded new radiation therapy machines across the country so people don’t have to travel as far for life-saving treatment, and we’ve boosted funding for Pharmac’s medicine budget to deliver more life-saving drugs. We’ve rolled out the National Bowel Screening Programme to more regions, and we’re investing in improved breast and cervical cancer screening, to ensure more women – particularly Māori women, who are overrepresented in poor outcomes from cancer – are included.

Taking mental health seriously

New Zealanders deserve mental health services that work. That’s why we’re making big changes to ensure more people can get the support they need. After years of neglect, it will take time to rebuild the system, but we’re making good progress. We’ve started building new mental health and addiction facilities around the country, as well as upgrading existing ones to ensure they’re fit for purpose. We’re rolling out a new nationwide frontline service that’s putting trained mental health workers into places like GPs – and around 2.7 million Kiwis will have access to this integrated care by the end of this year. We’re increasing access to addiction support, boosting crisis services, rolling out digital wellbeing services, and developing initiatives to prevent suicide and support people who’ve lost a loved one.

We’re also making sure Kiwi kids can access wellbeing support too, by expanding the Mana Ake programme and youth mental health services around the country. We’ve also invested in mental wellbeing initiatives for Māori, Pasifika and Rainbow young people, and lifted the cap on gender affirming surgeries, to support the wellbeing of our trans whānau.

Ensuring Kiwis can access lifesaving medicines and treatments

We want all New Zealanders and their families to be safe and healthy. That’s why we’ve made boosting Pharmac’s medicines budget a priority. Thanks to our record investments, Pharmac’s budget is now significantly bigger under Labour than it was when we were elected in 2017. This means that more Kiwis have access to even more life-changing medicines and treatments.

Giving babies a better start

We’re improving care for parents and newborns to ensure whānau are better supported at this critical stage. We delivered the largest ever funding boost for primary maternity services, to increase support for community midwives, women, and babies. Last year, we funded clinical coaches to provide the best possible support for new graduate midwives and those coming back to the workforce, and we’re working to grow the Māori and Pāsifika midwifery workforce to tackle underrepresentation. 

On top of this, we’ve amended ACC legislation to cover more injuries experienced by women during childbirth. We’ve started making improvements to child and maternity facilities, and our Best Start Kōwae suite of pregnancy assessment tools focuses on equitable access to healthcare for māma and pēpi Māori. We’ve also expanded the Pregnancy and Parenting Programme to help more women access alcohol and drug support and we’re investing in more support for maternal mental health.

View more key achievements

We're committed to:

  • Making mental health support available to all primary and intermediate school age students in the country, and continued roll out of nurses in secondary schools
  • Additional $200m to reduce waiting lists
  • Significant funding boost for PHARMAC to ensure more medicines can be funded for more New Zealanders
  • Doubling the number of cochlear implants 
  • Dental health grants of up to $1000 for those on low incomes and 20 additional mobile dental clinics

You can read more here.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to protect the health of New Zealanders while investing to build up the capacity of our health services after years of underfunding. That’s why we are:

  • Making record investment in our hospitals and health services including the biggest ever funding increase for DHBs, to ensure all New Zealanders can access quality care
  • Boosting funding for PHARMAC to make sure New Zealanders continue to get the medicines they need despite global pressure on supply chains
  • Increasing funding for planned care to deliver more than 150,000 additional surgeries, procedures, scans and appointments to help clear the COVID-19 backlog.