Disability support services and mental health services were among the winners in yesterday’s health Budget, which delivered a much-needed extra $3.9 billion over four years for the health sector.

District health boards will get a large chunk of this, receiving an additional $1.76 billion over four years to invest in services, improve access, and to meet cost pressures and population growth.

The extra health funding also includes $1.54 billion for wage increases for 55,000 care and disability support workers as part of the pay equity settlement.

Disability support services also receives a $205 million boost, with $27 million of this being invested in expanding the Enabling Good Lives programme, which has been successful in Waikato and Canterbury.

“The Government is committed to providing disabled people with more support so they can have greater independence and live better lives in their communities,” said Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman yesterday.

“The four-year funding includes $178.2 million for community-based home support, personal care, caregiver support and residential care, as well as equipment services. Around 32,000 New Zealanders and their families benefit from these services each year.”

Mental health services will also get a $100 million injection.

However, New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation chief executive Memo Musa felt aged care had been neglected in the Budget.

“Aged care particularly is facing heavier workloads and higher patient need with less funding and resources there is nothing in the budget to fund aged care to a level that New Zealanders deserve,” he said.

Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg agreed the health budget fell short overall, when taking into account the changing demographics, inflation and rising costs.

“Overall, the health budget is $300m short of what’s required to pay for increasing costs, the higher population, ageing population, plus the new costs the Government has placed on it through new services,” he told Stuff.

Health Funds Association (HFANZ) chief executive Roger Styles welcomed the funding increases in the health Budget, but warned against becoming too dependent on public funding.

“A more collaborative approach to planning is needed so we can make the best use of both private and public funding sources and deliver New Zealanders the best healthcare possible,” Mr Styles said.

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