The wellbeing of the elderly in New Zealand will take a big step forward as a result of health concessions announced Budget 2018, according to advocate and Grey Power Napier member Maxine Boag.
On her way home from a Grey Power meeting in Palmerston North yesterday, she said members would be delighted with the health funding increase which is expected to see cuts to doctors fees and hospital waiting lists.
"We're thrilled," she said. "It's a big issue for the older generation, but we don't know how it will trickle down to Hawke's Bay.
"It's great that quite a lot of pensioners will be seeing reduced fees at the doctor," she said.
It is, she said, a fact of life that as people get older they tend to see the doctor more regularly, at a time the ability to afford it may be less.
"Being asked to pay $41 every time you go to the doctor ... Well that's why they go to the emergency department at the hospital. Hopefully more will go the doctor instead."
She said greater funding for district health boards should shorten hospital lists, and mean those waiting for important operations such as hip replacements — including some in "a lot of pain" — won't have to wait "so long".
She said there will be benefits for pensioners in the budget, including the announcement of the building of 1600 state houses a year, up from the original promise of 1000 a year.
"The housing shortage affects a lot of people's wellbeing, and the waiting list has absolutely skyrocketed," she said. "In Napier, huge numbers are waiting."
She said steps announced in the budget seemed to be "a recognition that some of these services need a real boost".
"While the elderly aren't ill, of course, it is an ageing population," said Boag.
She has been an advocate for social change, including housing issues highlighted by the demolition of several hundred state housing units and houses in Hawke's Bay.
"We have people with needs that haven't been met under the previous government."