Rotorua health leaders have welcomed the massive boost for health services announced in yesterday's Budget - with one saying it will relieve the "great pressure" the sector has been under.

However, one GP is concerned that some of the changes, including cheaper doctor visits, could result in medical centres being swamped by patients.

More than $3 billion has been allocated to health services in Budget 2018 to relieve pressures on district health boards, provide additional support to midwives and increase the age of GP visits to 14.

Health Minister David Clark said today the budget laid the foundations for "stronger, more sustainably funded district health boards" that could deliver services New Zealanders expected and deserved.


Lakes District Health Board chief executive Ron Dunham said the funding boost was positive, as the DHB had been under considerable pressure in recent years.

"We will now have to sit down and work out in detail what it means for us."

Budget 2018 delivers an extra $2.2 billion to district health boards over the next four years - the most significant funding increase in the last decade.

Dunham said the midwifery funding package was also good news.

Over the next four years, $103.6 million has been allocated to support community midwifery services.

Rotorua midwife Tracey Smitsdorff said she'd like to see where the money would be going.

"We need to see more information; I think before we start jumping around for joy."

Smitsdorff said it sounded like it would be a long time before the pressure was taken off.


The Government would also be extending GP visits to under-14-year-olds and making GP visits cheaper for those eligible for Community Services cards.

These two initiatives will require $362.7 million of new funding.

Ranolf Medical Centre's Dr Harry Pert said welcomed the move but didn't want to see it abused.

"It's great to reduce financial barriers for people who need to be seen by a doctor.

"People need to be discerning about when that is. If everybody rocks up for everything, we end up swamped and can't offer the time or care patients need."

Highlights for health in Budget 2018:• Health receives $3.2 billion more in operating funding over the next four years.• $2.2 billion to DHBs over the next four years to help relieve the pressure they've been under. • $103.6 million of new operating funding over the next four years to support community midwifery services.• Free doctors' visits for everyone under the age of 14 – an extra 56,000 young people• $9 million in the 2017/18 year and $201.6 million in operating funding over four years for Disability Support Services to cover population growth, ageing and cost pressures.• $10.5 million in funding over three years to pilot a free counselling and evidence-based therapy service for young adults aged 18 to 25.• $7.5 million of operating funding over four years for sexual abuse assessment and treatment services.