Health budget barely maintains the status quo
“On initial analysis of the increase for health in today’s Budget, it is virtually enough to maintain the current level of service overall, but district health board funding falls short by around $300 million,” says Lyndon Keene, Director of Policy and Research for the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
“More money has been directed at community-based services, including an additional $61 million for National Mental Health Services, which is managed by the Ministry of Health.”
“However, the estimated shortfall in DHB funding means many hospital services will continue to struggle with increasing demand, and current unmet need for services is unlikely to be addressed. Targeting more funding for community services is much-needed but doing so at the expense of other services that are already under sustained pressure is highly disappointing.”
“The bulk of mental health funding which is ring-fenced and allocated to DHBs to cover services for people with the most severe needs has increased from $1,478 million in 2018/19 to $1,531 million or just 3.6%, amounting to a nil increase when demographic changes and cost increases are taken into account.”
“We accept that nine years of under-funding by the previous Government cannot be addressed in a single budget, as Health Minister David Clark has said many times, but after two budgets we are not seeing any real progress towards restoring health funding to previous levels.
“Today’s Budget will benefit some, but for many services it will be a case of more of the same, ” Mr Keene says.
A pre-Budget analysis by the Council of Trade Unions and ASMS examined what funding the health sector needs: http://www.union.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/How-much-funding-is-needed-to-avoid-the-condition-of-the-Health-System-worsening-2019.pdf