1 Jul 2017

Health minister rejects union's claims

4:25 pm on 1 July 2017

The Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is dismissing a union analysis that found the health budget is underfunded, saying it's the work of government critics.

The union analysis said this year's health budget was $215 million short of what was needed to maintain current services for the growing and aging population.

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Photo: 123RF

The paper (PDF, 368KB) prepared by the CTU and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists said it was part of a continuing trend of funding cuts in real terms.

But Dr Coleman said the government's investment in health would reach a record $16.8 billion dollars in the year ahead, making it the government's number one funding priority.

He says that's up $888 million, the largest increase in nine years.

CTU economist Bill Rosenberg has said the 2017 Budget was particularly tough on mental health, which received just 1 percent in additional funding while 7 percent was needed to maintain an under-resourced service.

New Zealand ranked poorly against other countries on measures such as waiting times for elective surgery, specialist appointments and treatment after diagnosis, he said.

The government allocated $224m in additional mental health funding in the budget but most will go to a new fund for a social investment approach to the issue.

Dr Coleman told a select committee last month that funding for the sector had risen by $300m under National to help meet demand.

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