9 Nov 2011

Labour pledges more health money

6:06 pm on 9 November 2011

The Labour Party says it would increase funding for the health system, which it says has not received enough money under the National-led government.

Labour's health policy, released on Wednesday, also seeks to cut obesity and pledges to bring back healthy eating programmes in schools.


The party's health spokesperson, Grant Robertson, says the Government has under-funded health by $275 million over the past two years.

He says Labour would fund the sector so it can keep up with inflation and other pressures.

Mr Robertson says it is not possible to say how much extra funding Labour would provide and it is not detailed in the policy.

The party pledges, however, to review funding of community healthcare to ensure everyone can afford to see a doctor.

Labour also says it will spend $10 million a year to enable children under six to see a doctor if they need to, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Labour says more money needs to be spent on community and preventative healthcare, to prevent bigger bills in the future.

Mr Robertson says the cost of accessing primary health care remains a problem for many people.

"I think the question to ask is, can the economy afford not to invest now in preventative health and primary care and the things that will actually keep people healthy, or do we wait to put more money in later, for expensive secondary care?"

Mr Robertson said Labour would work to make dental care more affordable, starting with a package of free dental care services for pregnant women.

The party would also target obesity, reinstate healthy eating in schools and try to implement minimum pricing for alcohol.

It says alcohol advertising should be restricted and there should be a lower tolerance for drink-driving.


Mr Robertson says health needs more just to stand still.

National Party health spokesperson Tony Ryall says that after three years of criticising everything National has done, all Labour has come up with is a copy of National's under-sixes after hours policy and a promise to borrow more money.

He says National is focussed on achieving efficiencies to get more from the $14 billion health budget.

"Money is not the only answer to improving services. The way we do things, the way we provide care is a way that we can use to improve service."

Mr Ryall says this has produced results, including 27,00 extra elective (non-urgent) operations over the past three years.

Party leader John Key said National had spent new money every year on health.