Delivering better public health services to New Zealand families remains a priority under National, and we are committing a record $15.9 billion in this year’s health budget to do just that. The major announcement on Budget Day was our $76.1 million commitment to hospices and palliative care. We are funding areas which make a huge difference to people’s lives by ensuring terminally ill people are as free from pain and suffering as possible. Hospices provide valuable care and support for families and friends, and this investment will ensure they can continue to do so.
National is also investing $13 million to fund 60 new nurse specialists and help hospices expand their community care services. These nurses play a critical role in training and mentoring staff across aged care facilities. They will help to ensure…. that as our population ages, high quality care and facilities remain available to them. We are helping New Zealanders live longer, healthier lives, free of pain. Before the Budget we reaffirmed this commitment by announcing a further $98 million to boost elective surgery and improve prevention and treatment of orthopaedic conditions. This funding will help deliver an average extra 4,000 elective operations per year over the next four years. That’s more hip and knee operations for those who need them most. Latest figures show a record 161,000 elective operations were performed last year, 44,000 more than in 2008/09 – that’s what careful management of our finances delivers for Kiwis.
We will also invest $12 million to extend Waitemata District Health Board’s bowel cancer screening pilot to 2017. The Government is considering the next steps in funding for bowel cancer screening but has already started to lay the groundwork with funding for more colonoscopies in Budget 2015. Initiatives are also under-way to increase the workforce to carry out those colonoscopies. Cancer services have improved immeasurably under this Government, with a new health target that says people will get treatment within 62 days of their GP first suspecting they have cancer. Under Labour, New Zealanders were leaving to get their cancer treatment in Australia. Thankfully those days are over.
Also, from July 1, free doctor’s visits will be extended to 400,000 more children and their families because cost should not stop parents taking their kids to the doctor. That’s what National is all about, delivering better public health services that really make a difference to New Zealand families.
S. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National Liost MP)