Little for those 'in most need'

There is little in the Budget that helps people who need it the most, Otago Presbyterian Support chief executive Gillian Bremner says.

While there was $40 million in the Budget for dementia care, Mrs Bremner said it would not alleviate the pressure the rest-home and hospital level care sector was under.

However, it did acknowledge the increased demand for dementia care and the need for greater capital investment in the area, she said.

Encouraging funding in that area was difficult as there was little return for the investment, she said.

That did not help the lack of a boost for rest-home and hospital level care area generally.

"There is no recognition in the Budget," Mrs Bremner said.

While the sector recognised the tight fiscal constraints the Government was under, there was a concern the Budget did not help the people who needed it most, such as the low-paid staff in the residential care sector.

"They do a very important job but there is no significant joy in the Budget for them."

The rest of the extra health funding in the Budget was signalled in earlier announcements, including $33 million for faster cancer treatment, $16 million to speed up diagnostic tests, $48 million for more and faster elective surgery, and an increase in prescription charges.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists assistant director Angela Belich said the small increases in the Budget would not compensate for increasing cost pressures and Government expectations of district health boards.

"The effect of increased workload pressures on senior hospital doctors, increasing difficulties in providing accessible high-quality services to patients and serious risk of burnout."

There were no longer resources that could be shuffled around in health boards without serious consequences for both patients and health staff, she said.

The New Zealand Medical Association deputy chairman Dr Mark Peterson said it was pleasing that health received the largest increase in Government spending.

The extra funding over four years for more elective operations and scans and improved cancer services would further reduce waiting times for patients.

"It is particularly pleasing to see Government investing in IT system for facilitate faster access to diagnostic tests to assess whether patients need an operation or treatment."

The $4 million for a cardiac register of patients treated for heart conditions was also positive, he said.


Health allocations
> $14.12 billion in 2012-13
> $1.5 billion for public health over four years:
• $350 million for health boards this year
• $33 million for faster cancer treatment
• $16 million for faster diagnostic tests
• $48 million for more and faster elective surgery
• $133 million on services for people with disabilities
• $40 million for dementia services
• $20 million for maternity services; Plunketline, Well Child boost
• Prescription charges up $2 to $5


- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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