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Health

We believe everyone should be able to access the healthcare they need, when and where they need it. We inherited a health system under serious pressure after years of neglect and underinvestment, but we’ve worked hard since coming into Government to start turning this around.

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

Making big changes for better care

We’re reforming the health system to make care accessible for all New Zealanders. Our work will take pressure off our overstretched hospitals by treating people before they get seriously sick. They’ll also make access to services fairer for New Zealanders right across the country, with primary care better tailored to communities. As part of this work, the Māori Health Authority will help to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes for Māori. All of this will mean our health professionals can concentrate on keeping people well rather than battling bureaucracy. The reforms will be phased in gradually, to make sure existing services aren’t disrupted.

Fixing our hospitals

We’ve kicked off a massive rebuild programme to ensure New Zealand’s health infrastructure is fit for purpose. The Government has invested an extra $6 billion to upgrade 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. This work is not only improving healthcare across Aotearoa – it’s also creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery.

Improving cancer care

We believe 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 boosted funding for PHARMAC by 25% since we’ve taken office, to deliver more cancer drugs. We’re rolling 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.

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. We’re also putting more nurses in schools, to ensure more young people can access the healthcare they need.

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 making sure 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’re providing an extra $200 million to Pharmac so more New Zealanders can access the medicines, treatments, and medical devices they need. This increase – one of the biggest budget increases Pharmac has ever had – will help an estimated 370,000 patients a year. This is on top of the significant funding increase we previously announced. We launched an independent review into Pharmac, to investigate the timeliness and transparency of Pharmac’s decisions. We’re also funding more cochlear implants for adults, on track to double the number of people who can access the life-changing device over this term.

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. We’re amending 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.

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.