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Health budget funding needs $691 million to maintain services

The Government’s health budget will need to increase by $691 million just to maintain current levels of service. This is one of the key findings of a pre-Budget analysis of Government health expenditure prepared by the CTU and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), released today.

“$691 million is the amount we need in the health budget just to keep pace with population growth, ageing, and increases in costs,” says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg.

“Anything less than $691 million should be regarded as a cut in funding and will result in cuts to services,

“The Government has already announced some new initiatives for the next financial year with an estimated cost of $60 million. Including the costs of these new services the health budget will need to increase by no less than $751 million. If further new services are announced, the budget will also need to increase,

“Most of the health budget goes to the District Health Boards, whose combined budget requires an increase of at $551 million to maintain the current level of DHB services. But if recent media reporting is accurate, DHBs will receive only $340 million to cover these additional costs. If that is correct, DHBs will face a funding shortfall of $211 million just to maintain current services, and up to $261 million when new initiatives so far announced are taken into account,

“$211 million would be enough to provide 1,000 more hip operations; making decent jobs out of the work that low paid carers do in looking after our elderly and people with disabilities in their homes, with regular hours, training and recognition for qualifications; extending free doctor visits to 13 to 17 year olds; doubling the additional funding for medicines from Pharmac; and providing up to 200 more nurses and 100 more medical specialists in our hospitals,

“There has been a substantial shortfall over the last six years we have been tracking the health budget. Any further shortfall will see more deterioration in services, much of which is hidden from view in areas such as unmet health need and staff shortages,” said Rosenberg.

Supporting data for the analysis is available here.