Health receives the largest Budget increase

  • Tony Ryall
Health Budget 2013

New Zealand’s public health services receive the largest increase in funding in the Budget, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“Budget 2013 is making available $1.6 billion for Health over four years for new initiatives and to meet cost pressures and population growth. This includes an average of $352 million in new funding a year,” he says.

This will increase total health spending to $14.7 billion in 2013/14 – the highest ever.

“Of this new funding, $250 million a year is going straight to district health boards, to take account of population changes and inflationary pressures. DHBs will receive further funding from the Ministry of Health on top of this.

“While many developed countries around the world are freezing or even reducing health funding, this Government is committed to protecting and growing our public health services.”

Some $191 million from savings and reprioritisation is also going straight back into healthcare.

Prudent management of the health budget, including DHBs reducing their deficits from $150 million four years ago to around $25 million (excluding Canterbury), has allowed the Government to invest more money into new health initiatives.

The total extra funding over four years will help meet cost pressures and fund new initiatives including:

  • $70 million for aged care and dementia services, including:
  • $20 million in home-based support to help older New Zealanders live in their homes longer.
  • $12 million for dementia-bed subsidies to encourage further investment in dementia beds.
  • $2 million for a dementia awareness/early detection programme.
  • $1.5 million towards training aged-care staff to carry out the new  regular interRAI assessments of their residents’ health and well being.
  • $1.2 million over three years for dementia-related training for health care workers.
  • In addition, DHBs have been funded to invest an additional $33.2 million in aged-residential-care subsidies over four years.
  • $35.5 million for diabetes and heart disease including:
  • $15.9 million to make further progress in the ‘more heart and diabetes checks’ national preventative health target – prevention and early detection make a dramatic difference in later life.
  • $12.4 million to improve and accelerate the provision of local diabetes-care programmes – for example, enhanced diabetes nursing or more podiatry services. 
  • $7.2 million to double the number of GP and nurse ‘Green Prescriptions” for healthier lifestyles – particularly for people with pre-diabetes.   

Budget 2013 also provides (over four years):

  • $100 million to help meet population changes and cost pressures in disability support services.
  • $48 million for more elective operations such as hip replacements and cataracts.
  • $25 million to increase the number of people being screened for diseases, particularly breast cancer.
  • More than $21 million to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever and undertake rheumatic fever vaccine research.
  • $18.2 million for a new mothers and babies initiative to be announced shortly.
  • $12.8 million for more patients to access CarePlus – a general practice programme for patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
  • $7.3 million for 20 additional medical student places taking the number of new places funded by this Government to 140.
  • $7 million to increase coverage of B4School checks – the preventative health test to help ensure four-year-olds are ready for school.
  • $4.3 million to improve care and men’s awareness of prostate cancer – the most common cancer diagnosed in New Zealand men.

In response to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Ministry of Health v Atkinson and others, the Government is also today announcing it will provide $92 million over four years to pay family members who care for their disabled adult children.

Legislation to enact the policy will be introduced to Parliament today.

“Health has received around a third of all new operating funding in the Budget,” Mr Ryall says.

“This boost to health funding is due to careful financial management over the past four years. Despite continuing tight financial times, this Budget investment is a reflection of the Government’s commitment to growing and protecting our public health services.”