New Zealand injects record funding into health services

12 May 20

New Zealand is to plough a record NZ$4bn ($2.4bn) of additional funding into health services over the next four years, as the government looks to balance a ‘legacy of neglect’.

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand, by Pedro Szekely

In a pre-Budget announcement, finance minister Grant Robertson and health minister David Clark said the 9% increase in funding was the biggest to the health sector in two decades.

District health boards are set to receive an additional NZ$980m ($598m) per year, taking the annual budget for DHBs to NZ$15.3bn ($9.3bn) .

The government has pledged a further NZ$31.3m ($19.1m) a year to reflect an increase in costs and the ageing population.

“This funding will support DHBs in improving their financial sustainability and clinical performance. It will enable them to meet costs related to a growing and ageing population, as well as already agreed wage increases and inflation”, Clark said.

“As a government we’ve put a significant amount into DHBs to put them back on the path to sustainability. This is a long-term plan, as rebuilding our health system will take sustained investment over a number of years.”

Minsters have also approved a one-off investment of NZ$282.5m ($172.4m) to help clear the backlog caused by the pandemic, which will cover elective surgery, radiology scans, assessments and follow-ups, and procedures completed in outpatient facilities.

The government estimates there is a backlog of around 153,000 surgeries and procedures, radiology scans and specialist appointments resulting from Covid-19, which Clark said would require creative solutions and help from the private sector.

“We’ve seen before the damage that can be done when funding isn’t provided in areas like health and education during and after a crisis to cover population and cost pressure growth. It can take years to catch up and make sure everyone is receiving timely treatment”, Robertson said.

“That’s why we’ve made a conscious decision in Budget 2020 to make sure critical public services keep getting the funding they need to keep running and providing the same level of services to all New Zealanders.”

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