$28m more to spend on local healthcare

By Mike Dinsdale

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Northland's public health system, centred around Whangarei Hospital, above, was given an extra $28 million in Yesterday's Budget.
Northland's public health system, centred around Whangarei Hospital, above, was given an extra $28 million in Yesterday's Budget.

Northland's health services have been given a $28 million boost, with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman announcing the extra money for the Northland District Health Board (NDHB) in yesterday's Budget.

Dr Coleman said the new funding for Northland increases the NDHB's total allocation to a record level.

"Northland DHB will receive an extra $28 million in new money this year, taking the DHB's total funding to $580 million for 2016/17. That's an extra $160 million in funding over the last eight years," he said. "Delivering better health services remains this Government's number one funding priority."

Neil Beney, NDHB's acting CEO, said it is too early to say what the extra funding will be spent on.

"We welcome the extra money provided by the government to help deliver additional services for the population of Northland. The needs continue to grow and once we have the details of the government priorities we will be putting programmes in place to meet these," Mr Beney said.

Dr Coleman said the Government's investment in health will reach a record $16.1 billion in 2016/17. An extra $568 million will be invested for 2016/17, the biggest increase in seven years, and almost $170 million more than last year.

"This investment in Budget 2016 will help New Zealanders continue to access the healthcare they need. The new Health Strategy sets the direction for a more integrated and patient-centred system. We want more services delivered in the community, with more prevention and self-management."

But Labour leader Andrew Little said the health funding is still not enough. "Our health service has suffered from $1.7 billion of cuts over the past six years. Yet today's announcement is $50 million a year short of what's needed just to keep up with population growth and inflation. We are again going backwards in health and there will be even fewer specialist appointments and operations," Mr Little said.

An annual Whangarei post-Budget lunch discussing child poverty reached record popularity, with organisers saying the hardship faced by some families was an issue on the forefront of people's minds.

Today's gathering, hosted by the Whangarei branches of Child Poverty Action Group and Social Service Providers Aotearoa, analyses the Government's Budget, announced yesterday, from a child welfare perspective.

- Northern Advocate

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