New Zealand First, like its two potential coalition partners, has a policy of widening access to GPs.
But unlike National and Labour, the focus of New Zealand First’s policy is the over-65s, with a pledge to offer three annual GP visits for SuperGold cardholders.
The party has a 33 bullet point health policy (see below) that is broad but short on fine detail and also – unlike National and Labour – short on fiscal costings of how much the policies will cost or how it plans to pay for them.
This includes establishing a public health compact “stipulating guaranteed minimum services” that puts no dollar value on what that increased investment might require. Along with National, New Zealand First shares puts a high priority on elective surgery and calls for adequate resourcing of elective surgery and establishing guaranteed maximum waiting times for surgical/specialist treatment.
In the area of child health, it is calling for nationwide health screening for all children under one year old and supporting increasing paid maternity leave to 26 weeks.
New Zealand First wants the number of district health boards to be reviewed, establish a ratio of practitioners to administrators and review the funding of primary health organisations and the aged care sector (particularly rest home funding after pay equity). In addition, the party wants equality of funding for all family home carers
New Zealand First, like Labour, supports an inquiry or review of mental health services. It is committed to a suicide reduction target, re-establishing the Mental Health Commission and increasing mental health service options and beds (especially youth and mental health services).
Its social support policies include raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour over the next three years, removing secondary tax and introducing flexible state support for grandparents raising grandchildren.
Below are the full health policies from the New Zealand First website.
BETTER COMMUNITY HEALTH
- Establish a public health compact stipulating the guaranteed minimum services the public can expect from the public health system and its overlap with the private sector.
- Ensure the nationwide health screening of all children under one year.
- Provide dental care to every pre-school and school child.
- Improve residential services for people who have severe illnesses or disabilities and/or substance abuse problems.
- Support the investigation of a third medical school at Waikato University and increase the number of medical professionals choosing to be general practitioners, especially in rural areas.
- Fully fund palliative care services.
- Introduce three annual SuperGold Health Checks with a GP.
- Conduct a review into aged-care sector, including the funding of rest homes particularly after pay equity.
- Remove income and asset testing for older people needing long stay aged hospital care services.
- Ensure that subsidies are automatically adjusted for CPI inflation.
- Implement national standards for aged home care that are appropriately monitored and enforced.
GPs AND HOSPITALS
- Review funding of Primary Health Organisations.
- Establish and implement a national strategy for addressing cancer treatment.
- Fully fund and provide world leading maternity care services (especially in the regions).
- Develop a national rural and provincial health services plan.
- Provide funding to assist modern diagnostic equipment like DXA scans for women over 50 years who have experienced a low trauma fracture related to osteoporosis.
- Adequately resource elective surgery and provide additional waiting times funding so as to firmly establish guaranteed maximum waiting times for a range of surgical and specialist treatment.
THE HEALTH SYSTEM
- Review the number of District Health Boards (DHBs) and establish a ratio of practitioners to administrators to keep the focus on health not bureaucracy.
- Increase mental health service options and treatment bed numbers especially around child and youth mental health services.
- Re-establish the Mental Health Commission to fund, control and direct mental health services.
- Commit to a suicide reduction target.
- Cap the number of places at medical training institutions which can be taken by foreign students at the expense of New Zealand students.
- Use a range of measures to ensure the adequate recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas.
- Require consistency in the provision of emergency health services such as ambulance and helicopter services and ensure the adequate funding of a core of fulltime employees and support for volunteers.
- Review the National Travel Assistance Policy with the aim of ensuring it is adequately providing transport assistance to those who cannot easily access hospital medical appointments.
- Review Pharmac’s funding policy.
- Make foreign patients within our public health system pay their fair share.
TAKING HEALTH FORWARD
- Provide equality of funding for all family home carers.
- Increase longitudinal data collection in health like a perinatal database.
- Increase research and development to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years to help boost biomedical research.
- Explore options associated with boosting uptake of private health insurance, including the provision of tax rebates for those with private health insurance.
- Change Pharmac’s legislation and provide funding to treat people with life-limiting and rare conditions (1:10,000 persons).
- Ensure the transition to Electronic Health Records so that PHO’s, DHB’s and private providers have access to patient records.