$90m health boost announced

National has announced $40 million in funding to reduce waiting times for cancer treatment and $50 million for more elective surgery and people with bone, muscle and joint problems such as arthritis.

Prime Minister John Key made the announcements today on the eve of Daffodil Day at the Cancer Society's Domain Lodge in Auckland, a residence for recovering cancer patients.

The $40 million for cancer is to try to ensure that by mid-2017 at least 90 per cent of patients were getting treatment within 62 days of their GP first referring them to a specialist -- up from about 60 per cent now.

The funding is spread out over three years and was allocated in the Budget but not announced until today.

National has also promised to spend $50 million in new funding on those with joint, muscle and bone pain and to increase elective surgery if it is re-elected.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said that plan included $6 million more for primary care based intervention teams to identify patients likely to suffer from conditions such as arthritis.

"This approach will enable some patients to be treated early enough to maintain independence. Others, however, will require surgery.," About $30 million would be put in to lift the number of orthopaedic operations in the public health system -- enough for a further 2250 hip, knee and joint operations over the next three years.

A further $14 million would go toward delivering an extra 1500 general surgeries, such as for hernia, gallstone and vein problems.

Mr Ryall said that on top of the usual increases in elective surgeries, that would mean an extra 14,500 operations a year by 2016/17.

Mr Key said the funding would come out of the $1.5 billion in new spending National has rationed itself to. However, he would not say how much of that was likely to be spent on health overall.


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