New Zealanders are being asked to think of the health system when they cast a vote this September. A nurses' union released an open letter saying "it's getting harder to do the work that we trained for".

The letter has been released to coincide with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's (NZNO) regional conventions this week.

"Health underfunding means that sometimes we're not able to give you the best. We are often short-staffed, rushed, and need a little more time to give you care," the letter says.

"We are sad sometimes because of what we couldn't do for your tamariki, your grandparents or your neighbour. Many of you are feeling frustrated by delays in getting the healthcare you deserve and expect. We are frustrated, too."


The letter tells voters who they back is a personal choice and doesn't name any political parties, but makes clear the organisation's position that health funding is not adequate under the National-led Government.

NZNO President Grant Brookes said the lack of funding in primary health, iwi and Maori providers and DHBs was having a "negative ripple effect" at hospitals, "where people are queuing up for help".

Health funding will be a focus for Opposition parties this election year, with Labour saying underfunding in health and other crucial areas such as education mean the Government's suggestion of tax cuts is irresponsible.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman has said delivering better health services remains the Government's number one funding priority, and the Government's investment in health will reach a record $16.1 billion in 2016/17.

An ageing population and record immigration saw last year's Budget put an extra $2.2b into health during four years to help cope with an ageing population and record immigration.

Any additional health funding will be announced as part of next month's Budget.

There has been recent media attention on mental health services in particular, in response Coleman has acknowledged the increasing demand being placed on mental health and addiction services.