Health policy will meet escalating costs: Labour

Promised extra health spending will allow the sector to "stand still" and meet escalating costs, Labour health spokesman Grant Robertson says.

Labour released its health policy yesterday, promising more funding, a focus on preventive health, children's health, aged care, and equality of access.

Health would get the "lion's share" of about $800 million additional spending Labour has promised.

"What we have committed to is trying to address the issue of not meeting the cost of inflation or demographic change."

Exacerbating the problem was the fact medical inflation ran higher than normal inflation.

He insisted the policy was not a big-spending Labour promise, and the party sought efficiencies in the sector, too.

"We're not talking about huge injections of cash here."

District health boards were cutting services, something the public had not fully grasped.

Mr Robertson said that unlike National, his party's free after-hours care for under-6s (worth $10 million) would not be funded by trimming other parts of the health sector.

Health Minister Tony Ryall had not specified exactly where the money for National's policy was coming from, Mr Robertson said.

(National, which has yet to release its health policy, has promised to fund its $7 million programme after-hours care for under-6s from savings in other parts of the health sector).

Dunedin Hospital needed additional resources to deal with problems revealed in August in the National Health Board report, Mr Robertson said.

A key issue for Otago and Southland was a high proportion of elderly people, requiring additional funding.

Mr Ryall said in an email Southern District Health Board had had an additional $71 million in the past three years.

"The problems won't be resolved by simply throwing in more money."


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