11 Sep 2008

National pledges to continue increasing health funding

3:22 pm on 11 September 2008

National has released the first part of its health policy, saying if it formed a government it would continue to increase health funding and focus on improving the delivery of health services.

The release on Thursday comes a day after the Labour-led Government released National's draft policy.

Leader John Key says National would continue the growth in spending on health set out in this year's Budget.

But he says a National government would spend more wisely than Labour has, and would get more from the money.

Mr Key also says National would give doctors and nurses more say in health decisions and would devolve more hospital-based services into the community.

Government releases National's draft policy

The Labour-led Government released a draft of the National Party's health policy on Wednesday, the fourth such release in a week.

The papers said National would build more operating theatres to get more non-urgent surgery done, train 750 extra doctors, nurses and specialists and fund more medicines.

It would also offer a rebate on health insurance taken out by those over 65, to encourage more elective surgery to be done in the private system.

Tony Ryall on Wednesday the details were out of date and party leader John Key would begin announcing actual National health policy in stages from Thursday.

Cabinet Minister Jim Anderton says it shows a National government would line the pockets of health insurers by offering a rebate to those privately insured.

Mr Anderton says it shows cheaper doctor visits and primary health care funding will be kept only in the short term.

Tony Ryall says the release is mischief-making and rejects the claim that a National government would reduce subsidies to family doctors to enable them to keep fees down.

The release is a further embarrassment to National after the Government's claims it is being drip-fed National's policies.