health & science

Government announces $4.3 billion for health system

Thursday's Budget will contain an extra $4.3 billion for the health system, distributed over the next four years, Marc Daalder reports

District Health Boards will receive almost a billion dollars a year over the next four years, on top of their regular funding, the Government has announced.

The boost of $3.92 billion over the period amounts to a 9 percent increase in annual DHB funding, Health Minister David Clark said.

"This funding will support DHBs to improve 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. While we know it’s challenging, DHBs will need to work on improving their financial performance as well as continuing to deliver quality care and improved health outcomes. I will be holding them to account on this."

In addition, the Government has unveiled a three-year investment of $282.5 million to address the backlog in elective surgeries and other planned care that has built up due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

"Although critical and urgent care continued even under Alert Level Four, we know that many New Zealanders had procedures delayed," Clark said.

"Our hospitals are now returning to a more normal level of service, but it will take time to recover and deal with the backlog. We don’t want people having to wait for care any longer than necessary. This extra investment in planned care will fund an estimated 153,000 surgeries and procedures, radiology scans, and specialist appointments over the next three years."

Another $125.4 million over four years will address demographic changes and increased costs as the backlog is dealt with.

"I think we are all aware of the fact that our health system has had to take on something that we have never seen before and therefore there have been things that have been paused or delayed. We are acutely aware of the fact that when it comes to elective surgeries, these really matter to New Zealanders," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

"These are about their daily lives and their ability to go about them in a pain-free way, for example. That's why we've prioritised getting this money out right now to be able to address that backlog."

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