More support for health services with major PPE investment

  • Hon Dr David Clark
  • $200 million to purchase Personal Protective Equipment
  • $26 million to support residential aged care providers to keep COVID-19 at bay
  • Boost of $35 million to PHARMAC’s budget for essential medicines
  • $15 million to continue the Unite Against COVID-19 public health campaign

The Government has again stepped up its support for the health response to COVID-19 with a $200 million investment in PPE as well as funding for residential aged care and medicines.

“Our frontline health staff do incredibly important work caring for New Zealanders. They need and deserve our support,” Health Minister Dr David Clark said.

“A key part of that is keeping health staff safe by providing appropriate personal protective equipment.

“This week we moved to a national distribution system for face masks, with the supply of other PPE items to follow. Already we have around 20 million masks, 9.4 million pairs of gloves, 1.2 million aprons and other items of PPE in stock - but we know we will need more in coming months.

“That’s why we’re investing $200 million to secure ongoing supply of PPE for both health staff and essential workers.

“From that funding we have already placed $140 million worth of orders. As part of that, in the next eight weeks we expect 75 million items of PPE to be delivered into New Zealand. That includes 17 million masks, more than 2 million gowns and coveralls and 13.8 million gloves.

“This is an unprecedented investment and reflects the continuing demand for PPE across our hospitals, primary care, aged care, home care and essential services workforces,” David Clark said.

Dr Clark also announced that PHARMAC will receive an additional $35 million to cover the increased cost of some medicines, and the widening of access to a number of medicines (including nine cancer treatments). A further $15 million will be used to continue the Unite Against COVID-19 public information campaign until October.

“Like other sectors of the economy, our health and disability support services are having to adapt to new ways of working in the face of COVID-19,” Dr Clark said.

“Many health care providers are incurring new costs directly related to COVID-19 – none more so than residential aged care, which takes care of some of our most vulnerable people.

“Aged care providers are taking a range of measures to keep residents and staff safe. For example, they are now routinely isolating new and returning residents for 14 days.

“To help cover those costs directly related to COVID-19, the Government will provide up to $26 million to the aged care sector.

“This funding will provide immediate support to providers maintaining their facilities free of COVID-19 and ensure aged care providers can continue to take the necessary steps to respond to the virus.

“Of course, other services are also facing COVID-19 related costs. I’ve asked Ministry of Health officials to consider what financial assistance may be required to assist other health and disability providers meet the costs of preparing for COVID-19.

“Responding to COVID-19 is a marathon not a sprint. We will continue to work with our health providers as they grapple with the impact of COVID-19.

“New Zealand’s health system has stepped up to the challenge of dealing with COVID-19 remarkably well.

“I want to pay tribute to our health care workers once again. They are always there for us when we need them, and the Government will continue to support them and the vital work they do,” David Clark said.

NOTE: Today’s announcement is funded in part from the dedicated $500 million Health fund that was announced on March 17. $224.8 million of the funding announced today comes from the unallocated portion of that fund, with the rest charged against the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.