Nats’ leaked health policy full of holes

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 pm, September 10th, 2008 - 9 comments
Categories: election 2008, health, national - Tags:

Having just read the National health policy and background paper released by Labour, a few things stand out to me.

1) There is no commitment to primary health-care. In fact, in 25 pages all it says is ‘we’ll do what’s already happening but we’ll re-name PHOs ‘Family Health Centres’, got ‘family’ in the name, don’t you know’. No more money for primary health, even though the experts say this is where we can get the best bang for our health buck.

2) Even in this private document there is no ‘how’ behind any of the grand claims. ‘We’ll spend the money better’ how? Despite claiming Labour’s $56 million increase in money for elective surgeries has not been able to deliver better results because of capacity constraints, National claims it will ‘somehow’ find a way to increase capacity, including 750 more medical staff and an unquantified number of support staff. All while not increasing the health budget, not increasing support staff numbers, and opposing pay-rises for medical staff.

3) It is remarkably short of detail. It is written in a tone that is not frank and is highly party poltiical; this is a document for internal consumption, but it reads like spin. If you’ve ever seen a cabinet paper, the papers the Government bases its decisions on, you know they frankly outline the various options, the pros and cons, and the costs involved. There is none of this in the National paper.

4) There is not even a statement of the overall cost of the policies proposed or where the money will come from (whether where within the existing health budget or from new money). I did some adding. National’s rebates for 65+ health insurance will cost $40 million a year (this is supposedly to increase the use of private insurance but nearly all the money will go to people who already have insurance ie those who can afford it without a rebate), a $100 a year 65+ dental payment worth $55 million, $15 million for palliative care (anyone seeing a pattern? maybe the Nats some blue rinse votes up for grabs with NZF collapsing? If you want bang for your buck, you invest in childhood health; if you want votes, you give it to the elderly), $20 million for a politically compromised Pharmac, and some smaller measures. So $100 million + a year and no discussion, even in a private document, over where it will come from.

9 comments on “Nats’ leaked health policy full of holes”

  1. East Wellington Superhero 1

    How about this for a line: “Nine years of Labour and health stats are worse”. You guys are pathetic.

  2. They’re not worse. That’s where you argument fails.

  3. East Wellington Superhero 3

    I mean how embarrassing is it that after nine years of golden economic weather the Wellington region is sending patients to Australia for healthcare. What a bloody joke.

  4. under National, those people weren’t getting treatment at all. Sometimes, sending people overseas is the most practical way of ensuring they receive treatment.

    EWS. I’m glad we don’t let policy be made on the basis of idiots’ prejudices.

    Hey, you wouldn’t know if it’s Bill leaking al this stuff would you?

  5. Razorlight 5


    Are they better?

  6. I’m not your personal researcher Razor, you’ve got the world’s most comprehensive library at your fingertips.. may I suggest the Ministry of Health stats site?

  7. Razorlight 7

    Thanks for the tip SP.

    I have failed in my research though and have not been able to find any stats anywhere that show the huge increase in health funding has resulted in any improvement in the health stats.

    I just thought you may have the stats I am looking for but obviously not. I am happy to be corrected.

  8. naughtybynature 8

    The government currently spends well over $100million a year on new health initiatives. There is plenty of scope for National spend $100m on health if it chooses while making savings elsewhere. Particularly if it undertakes a value for money test across Government baselines – something that hasn’t been comprehensively done for sometime. Additionally it could reprioritise funding this current government has announced.

  9. naughtybynature 9

    Interesting life expectancy increased faster during the late
    1980’s and 1990’s than during the current decade.

    Here’s a nice quote – I like the last line:
    Put very broadly, it appears that the post-2001 system is no more efficient, and may be less efficient, than its predecessor, but is likely to be somewhat more equitable and more popular with system stakeholders and the general public than the previous arrangements. The extent to which this profile of performance is due to the intrinsic characteristics and incentives of the DHB system rather than secular trends in health technologies, trends in funding levels and other parallel policy initiatives, is impossible to ascertain at this stage. In part, the lack of a striking contrast in performance between the pre- and post-2001 periods may lie in the elements of continuity between the two systems (Ashton, Mays and Devlin, 2005).

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