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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’ve started major reforms to the health system to make care accessible for all New Zealanders. The reforms 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. 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 over the coming three years, to make sure existing services aren’t disrupted.

Fixing our hospitals

We’ve kicked off a massive rebuild campaign to ensure New Zealand’s health infrastructure is fit for purpose. The Government has invested an extra $4.2 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 want to make sure that everyone battling cancer can get the best possible care, no matter where they live. 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, 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 these diseases – 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 made going to the doctor up to $30 cheaper for around 540,000 people on low incomes. We’ve also extended free GP visits for kids to 13-year-olds, and we’re expanding the nurses in schools programme, to ensure more young people can access healthcare when they need it.

Taking mental health seriously

Kiwis deserve mental health services that work. New Zealand’s mental health system won’t be fixed overnight, but we’re making changes so more people get the support they need. This includes rolling out a new frontline service that puts trained mental health workers in GP clinics, medical centres and iwi health providers, enabling people with mild or moderate needs to access support before issues reach a crisis point. In March this year alone, these services supported more than 9,500 people. We’ve started upgrading mental health and addiction facilities around the country, and building new ones to ensure they’re fit for purpose. We’re also increasing access to addiction support, boosting crisis services, and developing initiatives to prevent suicide and support the bereaved. We’re making sure children can access wellbeing support too, by expanding our Mana Ake programme around the country. We’ve invested in mental wellbeing initiatives for Rainbow young people, and lifted the cap on gender affirming surgeries, supporting 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 announced last year. We’ve also launched an independent review into PHARMAC, so we can make a good system even better. 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 mums and newborns to ensure whānau are better supported at this critical stage. We delivered the largest ever funding boost for primary maternity services, to improve support for community midwives, women, and babies. We’re working to grow the Māori and Pāsifika midwifery workforce to tackle underrepresentation, 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.

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.