Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

  • News – ASMS News

Health funding falls short of what is needed – again

25 May 2017 Media Release - ASMS

“The Government’s decision today not to fund public health care to the level needed is a serious blow for New Zealand’s communities,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

A preliminary analysis shows there is a total operational funding shortfall of approximately $300 million.  The budget for district health boards (including money for new initiatives) is $12.683 billion. There is a funding shortfall of approximately $163 million in order to tread water.

“This was an opportunity for the Government to respond to the significant challenges facing New Zealand’s health system, and they failed to do so. This is just a continuation of the years of under-resourcing of public health, and it is very disappointing for our dedicated health workforce and their patients.”

Funding would need to increase even more if the Government was serious about tackling the high level of unmet health need in New Zealand. Research led by Christchurch surgeon Associate Professor Phil Bagshaw, and published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in March, indicated that at least 25% of adults are not able to get the primary health care they need and suggested he unmet secondary care is about 9% (

Mr Powell also expressed concern about reports the health sector went cap in hand last year for funding to deal with rising immigration but had been knocked back by the Government – despite warning that access to health care was on the line if the funding required was not forthcoming (

“It’s disappointing the Government chose to short-change public health care, thereby adding to the burden of neglect on the sector.

“We said a few days ago that the Government faced a stark choice between stepping up and doing what was morally and fiscally responsible, and the alternative of letting even more people languish in pain as they try to access surgery and other treatment.

“With today’s Budget announcements, the Government has made its choice clear.”