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Giving with one hand and taking with the other not the way to create a healthy New Zealand

15 May 2012:

A pre-budget announcement that the Government is funding extra co-ordinating nurses to support those receiving cancer care, that more money is going to elective surgery and that prescription charges are rising is sending mixed messages about health says the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO).

“We are pleased to see improvements to cancer care. Forty extra nurses will make a huge difference to the experiences of those suffering from cancer,” says NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku.

“And it’s great to hear that waiting times are going down and more people are receiving elective surgery – but that’s only half the story. It is the increase in the cost of prescriptions that will pay for these services.”

“Increased prescription costs mean that many low income New Zealanders with high health needs will no longer be able to afford the medication they need. NZNO members working in palliative care already tell us they visit patients every day who have piles of unfilled prescriptions because they can’t afford to pay for them,” Nuku says.

“The Government is telling us that the money has to come from somewhere. There’s no arguing with that. What NZNO is saying is that the extra money needed for health should be coming from elsewhere; from the multi-billion dollar roading budget for example, not from within the existing health budget.”

“The health budget is not a closed loop. The Government does not need to give with one hand and take with the other. 46 000 NZNO members know that health should be a priority. Why doesn’t Tony Ryall?”

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